Monday, May 25, 2015

" Visiting Old Friends In A New Habitat!"

                              A lovely break with old friends we've known for donkey's years!

 I met P when we were 14 (!!) and since then, we've been neighbours in 2 different houses we've lived in! Our children grew up together and 2 of them ( my younger son, their younger daughter) even appeared to invent their own language...

Our friends now live in a village near Penrith and it's always fun visiting. We've recently had a great time catching up...

Snaps show:
Heavy work in the kitchen....Menfolk ( well, one of them!) preparing supper for a Village Hall Celebration for St George's Day....
A gentle walk around a Cumbrian garden...
This is followed by our friends singing ( beautifully!) with their " Occasional Choir".....which should certainly be MORE than " occassional"!....
then you'll see my husband R ( highly Shakespearean, with colander on head, saw in hand) going Once More Into The Breach...
and lastly the delightful Vicar with his equally delightful wife.... playing and singing their Gilbert And Sullivan...
A great time was had...and hope to go again soon!!

"Romeo And Juliet: From Globe To Clwyd!"

THIS snap is THE GLOBE THEATRE...but recently the touring company, appeared at Theatr Clwyd, with a magical production of " Romeo and Juliet".

This was a delight from start to finish......the stage built in authentic Elizabethan style.....the actors, some playing  more than one role in true Elizabethan fashion.....Samuel Valentine as an engaging  ginger-haired Romeo.... Cassie Layton, a strong very feminine Juliet. There was Sarah Higgins as Nurse.... Travelling Players.... who teased the audience ( always nice to be included!)...PLUS  songs, dances ...fights, beautifully crafted....Steven Elder as a  remarkable Capulet...

SO MUCH of this  deserves a tremendous lyrical waxing!

"REBECCA At The Lowry"

Having scoffed Du Maurier's " REBECCA" lots of times since I scoffed  it ( aged 15) over 2 rainy August afternoons on a Parker Knoll in my parent's dining room******......  I HAD to visit M/Chester Lowry..... with Friends Of Chester Lit Fest...for KNEEHIGH theatre company's new production.

AND I was not fact, this was one of the most INNOVATIVE/enjoyable plays seen for a while...
BUT of course such an iconic story when developed into a play would NOT please everyone...and I think that WAS the case...but  I found it MEMORABLE...with fantastic cast, PLUS brilliant arty stage design, lighting that thrilled ( and chilled!) with lots of dance and  music, ....1920's dance routines, Cornish shanties.......

"REBECCA" by KneeHigh will long be remembered by me and my companions.

***** I can STILL see the roses outside, through that dining room ones, white ones ...dripping in the Mrs Danvers, evil in black, descended the stairs at Manderley............

"Julian's Niece Jessica".....

An interesting session at MALPAS FESTIVAL...hearing Jessica Fellowes, niece of writer Julian Fellowes, talk about her work as author of 3 companion books to her uncle's " Downton Abbey" 
Her latest one: " A Year In The Life Of Downton Abbey" .
Jessica gave us juicy insights into the whole caboodle.... the cast, the plots, the development of much-loved ...(and not so much-loved! ) characters......the filming, the lot....PLUS lots of fascinating details about her own fascinating family/heritage. 
A Spellbound Audience!  

" Mr Sloan At Chester Theatre Club"

TOP: John Henry, Ray Bengree, John McGinn 
BELOW: Jo Perry with Sponsor (Insurance Brokers:"Risk Services North West" 

Another successful production last week at Chester Theatre Club:
Joe Orton's classic dark (very dark) comedy" Entertaining Mr Sloan" directed ( brilliantly) by Delys Rostron with the 4 charactres played by John Henry ( Mr Sloan), Ray Bengree ( Ed), Jo Perry ( Kath) and John McGinn ( Dadda)
All gave strong and convincing performances in a gripping play, which caused a sensation when premiered  in 1964...and still has plenty of food for thought.... 
John Henry ( MR SLOAN) with DIRECTOR, Delys Rostron: 2 highly talented people!

" My Brother, the Artist Who Paints With A Vivid Brush.."

My brother ( ANDREW LAWRENCE)  is again exhibiting his paintings in Studios and also in his own studio at home.See poster below( top right hand corner)  SEE A's website:

" A New Era For St Mary's On The Hill"

                                  There was a  very welcome Happening in Chester last week.....

A Presentation was held at St Mary's Centre, celebrating the fact that Matt Baker's fabulous Theatre Company ( "Theatre In The Quarter", which includes grandson G's group, "Jigsaw") has taken over the role of running the Centre ( a fabulous old church called St Mary's On The Hill) a " key venue in the city's vibrant cultural life".....

St Mary's will be owned/managed by CWAC ( ie. " Cheshire West And Chester"with its new Labour Council) but Matt and Co will lead all the activities ...THIS is superb news..... and we look forward an exciting mix of art forms...involving lots and lots of Cestrians.......CONGRATULATIONS!

Saturday, May 16, 2015


Fantastic Musician, who'll be much missed. His music delighted me over many years...Thank you!
                                       HEAR HIM SING " WHY I SING THE BLUES" ....

Sunday, May 03, 2015


G aged 9 yrs 11 months, canvassing with Lord Barry!

G with Chris Matheson, for City Of Chester Labour Party HQ.
                                                     MY vote is wobbling...............????

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

"Next Week....!"

             Son G's Band...THE ALEXANDERS, RUFUS COURT, CHESTER....
             with Jim Bazley and Chris Barnes...PLUS fabulous DJ: DJ LOWRIDER.......
                                                              HAPPY EASTER!

Sunday, March 29, 2015


A couple of weeks ago, we were transported to the island of Ithaca, by the fantastic cast of Jigsaw Music Theatre's latest production: "THE STRANGE ADVENTURES OF ODYSSEUS".

And we congratulate all: the Playwrights, Musicians, Directors, Managers, Everyone involved gave us a TREAT...... and we look forward to more!

We were battered by winds, saw Lotus Eaters, a scary Cyclops ( didn't realise HOW  loud grandson G could be!!)..... an Enchantress called Circe and we shivered to the the dangers of Scylla and Charybdis...

Must also mention The Sirens: 3 boys in wigs and dresses and plentiful makeup ( G, plus talented friends A and S) swaying and dancing and singing along with Celine Dion...!  They "hammed " it up and it was hilarious...

THE RECIPE: the children start with title and intro and over the weeks, they develop the's about creativity, writing, scene making and of course, acting.It develops confidence and very probably, a long-term delight in theatre.... SEE

ALSO recently: my granddaughters are members of Miss Emily's Dancing School ( and we watched 2 performances: the 1st included both children and adults, displaying some remarkable talent...the 2nd featured H aged 3 plus one other little girl..... taking part in their weekly class...finishing with "LET IT GO" from " Frozen"! The teachers dedication and the children's pleasure was there for us all to see!

The children are very lucky to have these talented artistic musical grownups people, both at Jigsaw and at Miss Emily's.,


2 other enjoyable events , organised by different groups.

FRIENDS of Chester LitFest invited actor Kevin Dyer to lead a play writing workshop for us. This took place in the new Club Room at Chester Theatre Club, an ideal venue.
Kevin, an essential ingredient and writer at local Action Transport Theare (,  led a fascinating session, using innovative workshop techniques...successfully leading to the exposure of the bones of some fine future plays!

Then last week, Waverton Good Read (  ) invited Jane Stubbs, ex Cestrian, now living in the south, to talk about her debut novel" Thornfield Hall" . This book cleverly and imaginatively reveals secrets we never knew...never suspected.... about " Jane Eyre". A very good read, whether you've read Jane Eyre ...or not!


Hoole-igans had a breezy morning recently when play writer Gail Young visited. Having said that, we have LOTS of breezily lively Wednesdays; my class is a particularly good mix at present. We learn lots and have FUN.Last class until September next week.... but we'll cop a few Summer Sessions to keep us all on the rails...

We had an enlightening time with Gail. We heard first about her play" Cheshire Cats", now produced all over the world. It's about the London Moon Walk ( in aid of Breast Cancer) and tells the story of a bevy of women doing the Moonwalk and enjoying a riotous Girly Weekend at the same time. It's due to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe again this Summer, this time by an Edinburgh based company.

Gail's 2nd play " Bothered ad Bewildered" was 1st performed to many accolades last year. It takes a look at Alzheimers, through the eyes and voices of Irene ( the sufferer) and her 2 daughters.
Irene, bothered and bewildered, believes she is talking with Romantic Novelist Barbara Cartland. It's
about memory, loss and hidden secrets ( good recipe! ) and it seems Cartland's son, Ian McCorquordale, read Gail's play, declaring it brought out his mother's humour superbly. Another  accolade.

Hooleigans much enjoyed Gail's visit and hope she'll breeze in any time at all!!

" Sitting On The Front Row At The Whitworth...."

A friend and I really WERE on the Front Row.....while watching a recording of R4's"Front Row".... at the newly vamped Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester......( see 1st picture, last picture)

On the Panel, led by John Wilson, were: Maria Balshaw ( Director of Whitworth) also artist Cornelia Parker ( see her work in 2nd picture)  also Barrie Rutter ( founder/artistic director of Northern Broadsides) plus Daniel Evans and one of my favourites, actor Richard Wilson.

Catastrophe hit when fire bells rang loud just a few minutes into the recording..... ( "Would you Believe it!") and the recording was halted. Everyone trouped into the cold outside for a good 15 mins while the Gallery was inspected. Turns out the culprit was " dust in the doings"...not surprising, considering the fantastic building/redesigning work that's taken place,

The " new" Whitworth ( cost 15 mill) is a light, spaciously fabulous place. It's utterly 21st Century with wide-open spaces, its exhibitions ( see 3rd picture) its glass, its viewings....... but marvellously, it retains glimpses and echoes of  its precious Victorian Mancunian roots.......

Saturday, March 21, 2015


In the past few weeks, I've enjoyed 3 visits to Gladstone's Library, Hawarden.

Having read Jessie Burton's Best Seller " The Miniaturist",  I HAD to hear her talk. AS well as hearing how Jessie has become such a popular writer, we heard how the book was "born"...... after a trip to Amsterdam with her boyfriend....  and in particular to the RijksMuseum, where Jessie saw a fantastic dolls house, which ( as thousands now know!) became the basis to this intriguing story.!  

One misty Sunday afternoon when the gardens of Gladstone's library looked almost ethereal,  I listened to lovely French writer Muriel Maufroy reading her favourite Sufi stories. These are compelling: both exciting and soothing.... in both the empathy and beauty they bring to the Reader.

Muriel's own book ( see above) is a fantastic read....." Rumi's Daughter".....telling the tale of Kimya and the amazing spiritual journey she makes.

I got to know Muriel when she became a Hoole-igan ( my writing group) and it was a delight having her with us. Her background is fascinating: Born in France, she worked for the BBC World Service and travelled the world over. She's studied Persian at the School of Oriental and African Studies and she's also published a book of Rumi's quotations " Breathing Truth" .

MY FINAL VISIT to Gladstone's recently was joining a course on MINDFULNESS....led by Avril Roberts. I dipped my toes in...and may well plunge a whole foot in before long......

FOR MORE : see .Lots of new courses etc coming up!

Friday, March 20, 2015




2 superb sessions of Royal Shakespeare Company LIVE productions from Stratford at a local cinema: " Love's Labour's Lost" followed by its "sequel" " Love's Labour's Won". Particularly enjoyed Michelle Terry as Beatrice and Nick Haverson as Constable Dogberry.  A TREAT!

Heavenly Happenings at CHESTER THEATRE CLUB...

All this week at CHESTER THEATRE CLUB: 
A 5 year old play by Richard Everett: " Entertaining Angels".......the story of Dead Vicar, Bardy......his Exceedingly Alive darkly attractive Wife, Grace, .....also the new and youthful blonde Lady Vicar, Sarah, the Wife's daughter, Jo,  and her Sister, Ruth. 

There are family revelations and family complications...... which evoke smiles and laughter......sighs and sorrow......with some happening all at the same time. 

A small tight cast featured: 
Janice Fryett as Grace, with a strong assured performance,  superbly hilarious and thoughtfully contemplative in equal measure...... Ian Dunn, exactly right as Bardolph, Dead Vicar.... with his natural dignity and wonderful dark chocolate voice.... 

Liz Stafford was Ruth the Missionary who gave us ( and her sister!) a Very Big Surprise  ...and Laura Smith was the caring kindly daughter, Jo. 
Newcomer to Little Theatre Naomi Turrell, clad in cassock kindly loaned by Chester Cathedral,  played Jo, the new Vicar, with serene but approachable, aplomb!  

The play was directed by Margaret Bennett who never fails to produce one of the Club's best plays. She was assisted by the highly experienced Hilary Egan. 
ABOVE: Snap of the set, designed by the dedicated and creative team of B ryan Conlon, Roberty Gay, Carol Kenny, Keith Long, Dick Pole, John Sands and George Westgarth, with Set Artwork by Rob Symington. 

****SEE the theatre's website for details of 3 new productions: Alan Bennett's " Habeas Corpus", Tim Whitnall's " The Sociable Plover" and  Joe Orton's " Entertaining Mr Sloan"****