Four Seasons in a Day

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To complete our musical-themed weekend that began last night in Warwick, we’re off to Kilworth House this lunchtime, to enjoy a meal and listen to the winners of the National Tribute Music Awards 2016:- ‘Walk Like a Man‘ (aka ‘Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons‘). More information about them HERE.

Kilworth’s Christmas decorations were their usual exceptional high standard, starting with their traditional tree outside the House. The standard continued as we ventured inside.

Last time we were here, was back in November 2018 enjoying another tribute act, Bookends, who (very successfully) recreated the sound of Simon & Garfunkel.

Janet acting as chauffeur got us five there in good time, with Carol arriving separately, not long after. Plenty of time then, to order a couple of bottles of Merlot (at £26 per bottle, but ‘hey!’, it’s Christmas!) and help ourselves to a free glass of mulled wine (or some sort of orangey/mango ‘thing’ for an alcohol-free experience!).

A quick look at the table plan indicated that we were on ‘Table 4’. I answer to many names but from now on you can just call me ‘Soup-Turkey-Tart‘! 😁
In addition to us six, we met Jim and Jan to make up our table of 8. It was Jim’s 65th birthday today, but I think he was trying to play it down!

It’s a well-oiled machine here in The Orangery at Kilworth House and tonight was no exception. The catering staff know exactly what they’re doing, offering first-class table-service, smartly dressed and all with a smile. Best of all, what they served was yummy!

Unlike previous years, where they held the dessert and coffee until the entertainment was finished, tonight was different. They served everything before the entertainment began. That meant the ‘meal part’ lasted some two-and-a-quarter hours.

At 3.45, 2019’s entertainment began. From the off, Walk Like A Man had us clapping and waving our arms (or was that the alcohol??). The ‘ladies’ on the table next door were clearly enjoying themselves slightly more than the rest of us. They had accidentally consumed too much grape-juice, and as a result, were the first to create a dance-space; first to attempt some singing; and worst-of -all best-of-all, first to do a brilliant impression of the witches from Macbeth! 😮🙄🤔 Talk about The Jersey Boys!, these were The Cackle Cousins!! 😊

On a more melodic note, the Concert itself was excellent! The boys belted out classics such as ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Sherry’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’, ‘Grease is the Word‘ and pretty much every Frankie Valli/Four Seasons song you can think of! Impressive!! 👍👍 and it was all done powerfully and effortlessly! ‘Frankie’ had a voice that could shatter glass (tight trousers permitting!) and they even managed some limited audience participation – so I’m glad our Table was at the back!

They worked us, the audience, really well. Even though our Table seemed safe, they even got our Carol to dance with one of the group whilst (shock horror) I grooved a bit too! And by the final number, most of us were on our feet – whilst the Cackle Cousins next door were almost on their back! I think the group only planned to do an hour of songs, but the audience were so appreciative, they did five more numbers.

Wow! A fantastic group of singers, who, individually and collectively, had a memorable and authentic sound.

Nice one Kilworth — you impressed us all! Just tidy-up the process for paying for wine at the end, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly organised evening!
Merry Christmas! 🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅🎅

Da Da Daaaa..!

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Just imagine being part of
Jeff Wayne’s 1978 Album “Musical Version of The War of the Worlds”…

Well, imagine no longer!

Book Tickets HERE

1.30pm: We’re off…

Jo and I left Kettering in plenty of time heading for this unique experience in London. Our expectations were high, as we’d both read (and heard) some excellent reviews. Our destination was to be just another ordinary looking building in London (actually The Old Metal Exchange) located in Leadenhall Street, where Jeff Wayne, in conjunction with immersive theatre company dotdotdot, and Director, Carl Guyenmette, had collaborated to create a truly ground-breaking form of entertainment.

It includes live performance, multi-sensory elements, immersive technologies (VR and AR), Holograms and Full-Dome Planetariums (naturally!) to recreate an authentic Victorian England at the time of HG Wells’ 1898 novel.

Phew! I’m exhausted already! 😁

Introduction by Director Carl Guyenette

Jeff Wayne’s two-disc debut album was released on 9 June, 1978. A concept album, rock-opera in style, featured the voice of Richard Burton (in the UK version and Anthony Quinn, Teófilo Martínez, and Curd Jürgens across the water) together with the singing talents of Justin Hayward (of The Moody Blues), Chris Thompson (of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), Phil Lynott (of Thin Lizzy), Julie Covington (of Evita and Rock Follies), and David Essex (Evita, The China Plates). The Album went on to become the 32nd best-seller of all-time in the UK and spawned a number of remix Albums and a ‘New Generation’ studio-production in 2011. And not just Albums, Jeff Wayne went on to produce a Live Tour, contribute to a Video Game and created a Music-DVD based on the source material.

5:15pm: Let the games begin…

We arrived in good time, and once inside exterior and interior contrast became obvious – cue: one martial Fighting Machine, front and centre! After checking-in and depositing our valuables in the provided lockers, we settled down in the themed Bar waiting for our pre-booked the 5.20 ‘performance’.

On the dot of 5.20, blue smoke was pumped from the ceiling indicating that ‘Group Blue’ (us!) should assemble. From that point, we’d been reminded that photography wasn’t allowed, so we snapped our last selfie and with our nine new BFFs, we nervously took up our positions…

Although the reviews online had all been very positive, there was very little detail about what we were actually about to experience – so I guess that added to the heightened thrill and anticipation of it all. 😲. I’m going to maintain that tradition – NO Spoiler Alert – and keep it all ‘very general’ about what followed…

Official Trailer

7.15pm: The Verdict

For the next two hours, we were frightened, excited, confused and gob-smacked – and we’ve both worked in food-retail! If jaw-dropping was an Olympic sport, we’d have been in top spot on the podium! Our motley crew had held hands, slid down slides, climbed through holes in walls, confessed our sins, watched a whole Army Battalion wiped out by a Martian heat-ray, taken a boat -trip along the Thames, flown in a hot-air balloon, and sung a song to raise our spirits.

For some, it was maybe just another Friday-night in London… but for us, it had been something much more than the sum of its parts… Fantastic, just fantastic!

Every one of our senses had been engaged from the very start – a truly immersive experience! Wow! 😊

7.25: Oooooo Laaa!

From the incredible level of imagination and attention-to-detail that had gone into the story-boarding, the set design and the costumes, it had been a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and I don’t say that too often!! We both agreed it had been a thoroughly entertaining evening, with the thrill-level completely off the scale! We think we’re unlikely to experience anything quite so engaging any time soon, and couldn’t stop talking about it on the way home. We found it impossible to identify a ‘best bit’ – as it ALL was! Congratulations to all those who made this happen!

Go see before all the tickets are sold and ends its limited run! 👍👍👍👍👍

If you fancy some of the same, book your tickets HERE

Big Band for a Big Event

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You might remember Paul – he joined forces with David and me for our ‘£1-a-Day’ fund-raising event in 2017 and 2018.

Paul as he looked BEFORE someone told him about Cambodia’s creepy-crawlies!

Well, he’s mad enough – in a good way – to continue his generous nature and has volunteered to do a 94km sponsored walk. Yes, you read that correctly – 94km!!!

And this is no ordinary walk! How about five days across Cambodia in November!

It’s all for a great cause: to raise money for the Salvation Army – specifically Gloucester House Rehabilitation Centre in Swindon. Apparently the walk also involves camping overnight in tents, but this is no Glamping event as Paul is going ‘old-school’ with ‘good ol’ fashioned’ blankets and mattresses (and did I mention the creepy-crawlies!). Add to that, the humidity and heat, and it sounds horrendous!! Massive respect Paul!

By comparison, it makes our £1-a-Day event sound very tame! 😕

Previously, we’d also been part of a (much safer and more comfortable) Quiz Night earlier in the year supporting the same cause. Rather him than me in Cambodia! Quizzes I can do, but long walks are not my thing – and 94km is a serious amount of shoe-leather 😲

Tonight’s fund-raiser re-lived the era of Swing from the 40s in the company of the SA BigBand – and it didn’t disappoint! Nick (Band-Leader and Piano) led the 19-strong Band through a series of Swing-staples indispersed with a few more religious arrangements. The sound they produced was (much) greater than the sum of their parts – powerful stuff indeed! 👍😊

We also heard the vocal talents of Rob Moye who accompanied many of the numbers.

We really enjoyed the music, and all credit to Paul and Helen for organising the evening – a great event for a great cause!

Good luck on the walk Paul! 👍👍👍👍👍

The Sound of… Bookends

Reading time: 2 minutes...After picking up Jo, Janet & Carol, we headed off to Kilworth House this evening for a spot of nosebag and evening with the Simon & Garfunkel tribute act – Dan Haynes & Pete Richards aka ‘Bookends’. Simon & Garfunkel at Kilworth We haven’t been to Kilworth for over a year – last time was in September 2017, to see Top Hat and of course before that, in December, 2011, at the Hotel itself for our pre-Oz Honeymoon. Well, Kilworth’s legendary Christmas ‘decs’ looked fantastic and the event was certainly well supported with around 150 all sitting down to enjoy the pre-event Dinner in the Orangery. Our Table of eight was shared with Paul and his wife Lynda plus their friend (who was seated a bit too far away for me to chat with her much). Food was well-presented and tasty – and to make the evening’s logistics work, they served Starters and Mains before the event with Desserts and Beverages after the Boys had finished their performance. Back to the main event… After an easy-to-miss low-key stage entrance at just before 9pm, Bookends were straight into their repertoire – and wow!, from the off, they certainly sounded just like Simon & Garfunkel! –  fantastic!! But you didn’t need to have 20/20 vision to spot that they didn’t look like them at all – and they made light of that in their intro (pointing-out their collective lack of hair!) explaining that their focus was on S & G’s music itself. Luckily our Table was closest to the the Boys and we got to enjoy their great sound (with a great view!). I can’t emphasise enough how good the harmonies were and although they’d only been going around seven years, it was a very polished act. Initially, some of the tunes were unfamiliar, but we were soon into well-known staples such as ‘The Boxer’,’ ‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Mrs Robinson’ and of course, the piece that everyone was waiting for: ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. We learned later that they also tour with a Strings section too – and I found this on YouTube
After Bookends departure, a lot of people left immediately, but we hung around. In fact, we didn’t leave until just after 11pm. It had been a GREAT show and in spite of the misty/foggy driving conditions, we we were home just before midnight.

Rick Wakeman at the Derngate

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We haven’t been to the Derngate since last November when we saw Rob Brydon.

And just like last time we dropped into Pamukkale, the Turkish restaurant, just down the road, before the Show.


 
It didn’t disappoint, in lots of ways and also seems to have expanded since we were last there – taking over the space next door. Joining us, were fellow prog-rockers: Chris and Gill and the timings worked perfectly – table for 6.15… leisurely meal.. slow walk back to Theatre… in our seats with 15 minutes to spare.

If you like Turkish and you like generous portions, this is THE place for a pre-theatre feast! Lovely staff too!
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On arrival at the Theatre, and after taking our seats in the Upper Circle, we were surprised that it wasn’t fuller! I don’t think I’ve been to one of Rick’s concerts where it wasn’t a sell-out!

On the stroke of 8, Rick entered Stage Right (looking as scruffy as he always does, but with his signature naughty smile). After playing an initial track (can’t recall the title), he was into his legendary comedic interlude – and within 10 minutes, we were all in stiches!

Since I saw him last (back in 2014), he’s lost none of his keyboard skills. I think every note on that Steinway was used during the just-over-two-hour note-fest, and his playing speed is still as jaw-dropping as ever with no sign of a bum note anywhere! No-one could fail to be impressed by his sheer skills on the piano and he deserves IMHO to be much more in the public-eye than he is. He’s a passionate player and his classical training is strongly in evidence –  but he’s a very versatile player effortlessly switching playing styles in a heartbeat.

If he ever loses his passion for playing, he can always fall back on his skills as a stand-up comedian. The acoustics weren’t brilliant, but it didn’t stop this audience from almost wetting themselves with laughter at every ‘talky-bit’. Funniest moment? His joke about Black Testicles – worth going, just for that!

The show finished around 10.30 and as we said our goodbyes and headed home, we reflected on the performance – as good as ever in our view!
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Top Haturday & Sunday

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Another family & friends get-together today as we headed for Kilworth Theatre and their final performance of Irving Berlin‘s Top Hat. It was obviously a popular choice, having run for a whole month – 16th August until 16th September.



Roger, Jane and Oliver are with us for the weekend and joined us for the event, whilst Jo, Janet, Carol, Chris and Pete met us there.

But first, there’s lunch… and it’s always a good spread here (as my growing waistline will prove!).


Lasagne and Salad

…followed by Ann’s newest dessert…


Pimm’s Jellies

Suitably stuffed, we headed off in the direction of Kilworth for the 2.30 matinee performance. Unusually, the Hotel was closed for a private function and as a result, the normal route to the Theatre’s parking was out-of-bounds. The result was a slightly chaotic journey to our eventual parking spot!


The Set

Weve been going here for years and have never been disappointed with any of the past productions; it’s always ‘West-End-standard plus’ in our experience and this year would turn out to be no exception.

And this sell-out show really didn’t disappoint – Wow! … and some!! – and to prove I’m really becoming a Pensioner (I’ve already got my train-pass!) I think I knew all (but two) of the tunes… and most of the words too! Eeek!



In the role of Dan Travers – made famous in the 1935 RKO Pictures movie by Fred Astaire – step forward Dan Burton, who had a voice so silky smooth, you could have polished your shoes with it! Wow!

Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers in the original) was played by Lauren Stroud – and she had a great voice too! If the singing and dance routines punched well above their weight, so did the comedy – especially the role of Horace, played in this production by Charles Brunton. He played it as a cross between Basil Fawlty and Rik Mayall –  we were in stiches!!


I think we all knew we were going to like it, but the show exceeded all our expectations and just blew us away! The singing, dancing, choreography, lighting, music and the Set – everything – was just top-notch, further proved my the number of people tapping their feet and singing to themselves through the Show. On a feel-good factor of 10, this was up there at 15, at least. The standing ovation at the end was well-deserved and we were all humming the tunes on the way home. Brilliant! Brilliant!


Well done to everyone concerned – you were simply spectacular, and I think this will go down as one of my fave theatre visits ever! Note to self: must get the original DVD!

Although the weather had been kind during the production, on leaving, the heavens opened as we headed back to ours for sandwiches and scones… and Eccles cakes… and macaroons and another first from Ann: a Date and Marmalade cake. All super-yummy and I’m so glad that I recently did £1-a-Day (as I then didn’t feel so guilty trying everything!)


I kept everyone watered with drinks – mostly Gin – and before we knew it, it was 9.30pm and in was off to bed as we were all drained from all our singing and eating (it’s tough here!). 930pm? Part Animals? Maybe?


Tomorrow, we do it all over again (minus the singing) as Denis and Bev are joining us for lunch, making it another Gambles Gathering!

Sunday

Roger, Jane and Oliver stayed over, which was a perfect excuse for a lazy breakfast! and a lazy morning. Sunday papers at the ready whilst Ann slaved (happily) in the kitchen.


All set for Brekky!

..and an extra two for Lunch – here we go again!

Beef ready for roasting!


”Table for seven by the window please…”

Denis and Bev arrived just before 12 weighed-down with my birthday pressies and food goodies. Denis caught up with Roger, Jane and me, whilst Bev helped Ann and Oliver in the kitchen. It was a full three-courser (although we were so interested in the food, we forget to grab photos to do it all justice!)



Soup or Apricot, Asparagus & Manchego Cheese Tartlets (thanks Oliver!), followed by a full roast – and I do mean ‘full’ as we needed BOTH heat-trays on the go!




Dessert was a rather scrummy ‘Bread & Butter Brioche’ Pudding’ (once again with Oliver’s help!)


As always, it was all super-scrummy, and there was only one place left to go after a meal like that – the Lounge, for an obligatory period of doing-absolutely-nothing!

An opportunity for a short, final catch-up, and then it was time for everyone to make tracks for home. After all the good-byes and with our holiday beginning mid-week, there was a renewed energy to return the house fit for (just) two. Dealing with the washing-up was easy as everyone lent a hand before they left, but there was still the matter of the washing and the ironing! Still, nine napkins, six pillowcases, two duvet covers, two valances, three shirts and one pair of trousers were all polished-off by yours truly in a couple of hours!

What a weekend! A bit of theatre, a get together with the family, great food and a chance to give our new iron a good workout!
– it doesn’t get much better than that!


Kettering Citadel Band – In Concert

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Kettering Citadel Band Concert 2016
We popped over to the Holy Trinity Church in Rothwell tonight to see the Kettering Citadel Band (supported by the Kettering Citadel Songsters) in concert. It was in aid of the Rothwell Corps and Community Project and there were over 100 people there.

Typically for Rothwell, parking was a ‘challenge’ with the main car-park in Bridge Street bursting at the seams (with other motorists circling). We headed back into Bridge Street and eventually found a space round the back streets.

We haven’t been to this Church for years – we reckon nearly 20 – and I’d forgotten how large it felt inside. It’s pretty old too, with the current building dating back to 1130.  Just like the car-park, it was packed inside, but helpfully, Keith who helps out at the SA in Rothwell pointed out the two types of seats – ‘church-like’ and those with a cushioned seat – I think we got the last two! A couple of Southern Softies us!!!!

It was good to see Richard and Pauline at the helm doing what they do best – and Jack was in top form compering the evening including some humorous and reflective messages – for obvious reasons, I won’t say his performance was EPIC though! (you had to be there!!!)
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It was a varied evening of music, from the traditional to the modern, with the acoustics of the Church helping the Band and the Choir to sound even bigger and better – and grander – than normal.

All-in-all a great evening – all for a worthy cause too!