Monday, 16 June 2014

South Pacific

This morning we walked through Highgate Woods and along Parkland Walk into Muswell Hill. Parkland Walk North of Highgate follows an old railway line which used to take people from Highgate Station to Ali Pali via Muswell Hill and the infamous Cranley Gardens, which is, of course, now a little more famous as the home of the mass murderer, Dennis Nielson.

The walk clings to the edge of a hill and offers stunning Mrs Tiggywinkle views across North East London on one side and Rear Window-esque glimpses up into the Victorian houses of Muswell Hill on the other.

We had soup in a cafe-cum-antique shop and then wandered back to Highgate. My guests were impressed and slightly surprised at how green North London actually is. I think I'm actually right in saying that there are so many trees in the capital that it can officially be classed as a forest.

This afternoon saw me on a train to Rugby of all places... Home of my ancestors. I mistakenly thought I might be able to find a nice cafe nestling near the train station to sit in whilst waiting for Ian and Jem who were picking me up there. I walked down a long Victorian Street towards the dope-scented, profoundly empty town centre, wondering how anyone could live in a place so genuinely horrifying. The whole town was filled with aggressive and bored-looking lads in their uniforms of shiny shell suits and hooded tops. And lots of Eastern Europeans. These should have been my people but the whole place felt utterly alien.

As I walked away from the station I remembered the story my Grannie used to tell - probably 100 years old - of a loyal dog who would meet his owner off the train at Rugby Station when he returned from work at the same time every day. I think the story then goes that the owner died, but the dog carried on going to the train to meet its owner. Day in. Day out. A sort of Greyfriar's Bobby in a less interesting environment.

I eventually found myself in something resembling a town centre with a church and a little pedestrianised shopping centre where there was a Cafe Nero. I was highly amused by the name of a shoe shop opposite, "That's Shoe Business!" Glorious! I was pleased to read in the window that the shop also "does number plates." What a relief! It makes me wonder whether they chose the shop name after they'd decided what to sell!

I was up in the Midlands watching Nathan performing in South Pacific at the open air theatre at Kilworth House, which is about a nine mile drive from Rugby. It's a beautiful theatre in a beautiful country house setting and we had a mirth-filled picnic which was provided by Jem and Shannon. Top billing went to Jem's asparagus quiche. Jem is a culinary God.

Open air theatre is such a treat. Nature always makes her presence felt in some glorious manner. Sometimes there are sunsets, crazy rain showers, little rumbles of thunder or blasts of breeze... Today there were birds, and lots of them. As dusk rolled in, song birds were replaced by the more sinister, rather empty sound of crows.

I very much enjoyed the show. Nathan, of course, was tremendous and there were some lovely touches, although very clever acting is required these days for some of the more unacceptable plot turns. The character of Nellie, for example, walks out of a relationship, essentially because the man she's in love with admits that he has children from a relationship with a black woman. It takes a high calibre actress to make an audience accept that sort of footle in this day and age!

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