Days 8-11 – You can’t have blues without a matchbox

Hello all! After a day doing work on Janet’s land on the 8th, we were invited to a pub quiz at the Fox & Badger in Wellow. Janet had agreed to cover our entrance fees as part of the work we are doing for her. It turned out to be a very entertaining evening, and after finishing a remarkable 3rd, having a few pints and meeting some lovely people, we agreed to go back to one of our team-mateHowie’s house, to play him some music in exchange for some firewood and the couple of rounds of drinks he had bought us in the pub. We rattled through a few songs to the best of our ability, and semi-improvised a sit-down version of the Wife of Bath, all of which Howie, and another team-mate Jan, found very entertaining. All in all, a brilliant evening.

Friday brought over cast conditions and the prospect of another day’s work on the land, with an evening performance in the Fox & Badger to boot.  We spent the day rescuing recently planted trees from being overgrown, and although a couple of our heads were suffering (go easy on their home-brewed cider) we made really good progress, clearing a few hundred trees.

With our minds refreshed from the outdoor labour it was time to quickly rehearse some songs, get changed into our cleanest clothes and head to the Fox & Badger to play some music. Our performance seemed to be received well by the people who heard us, and although we initially took the role of background music, later in the night people started turning up to see us play. So, due to popular demand, we ended up doing a few repeats of songs we had done previously, by which time the pub had become quieter and we had thoroughly enjoyed playing. We met a local village musician, James, who had previously expressed an interest in us performing in his home for family and friends, so we arranged a date for this. We discussed the project and how it has enabled us to see people’s innate human kindness in a different light. He related to this due to his experiences busking around Europe and beyond. So Wellow had treated us to another fantastic evening.

Saturday promised to be a hectic day, with us needing to sort out the campsite, cook some food, rehearse and perform two showings of our Canterbury Tales, in the Wellow village hall. We just managed to squeeze a couple of rehearsals in before the 4 o’clock show (paying particular attention to the waltz and costume changes) which we were orientating more towards kids. Come 3.45 people were starting to arrive with food and firewood donations as an entrance fee. We could never have expected a more generous response from the people of Wellow. For both the 4 o’clock and 7.30 show, people brought us tins of various food stuffs, bread, chocolate, cake, firewood, kindling, biscuits, a place to stay for the night, cheese, duck eggs(!!), the list goes on and on. We want to say a big thank you to everyone who came, including Nathan’s dad, Barry for his plentiful offerings and a pint at the Fox & Badger. Overall the performances went down a treat, with everyone leaving with a smile on their face and offering us fantastic feedback. Prior to this project starting, we always had this date in mind and it was a relief for it to go down so well. We approached both shows with a great deal of energy, performing them at a high tempo and trying to involve and engage the audience as much as we could. The Nun’s Priest’s Tale went down especially well with the young afternoon audience, and we are in the process of possibly arranging to perform at the local primary school and pre-school. We feel this could be a great way to contribute something more to the local community. Some photos of our shows can be seen below.

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We awoke to beautiful, radiant sunshine on the 11th and for a short while it didn’t seem like November, but more like a summer holiday. The coats and jumpers were off and we were outside playing Frisbee. Unfortunately the mellow Wellow afternoon was to be cut short by our departure to Bath to play at The Saracen’s Head Tavern, also giving Tom a chance to watch his beloved Liverpool again. The ride in seemed easier, some of us (Darius) managing to cycle the entire round trip without having to push up any hills…

We ate really well at The Saracen’s Head, demolishing a Big Ben Burger each and side orders of garlic bread – again much to Tom’s delight. When it was time for us to perform, the pub was rather empty, but we persisted – getting changed into costume and seeing if we could round up an audience. Unfortunately, there was very little audience to round up, but we decided we needed to give something back in exchange for the food they had given us, so performed a few of our songs for the bar staff and anyone else who would listen. James, the manager, also gave us hot showers upstairs, which were much appreciated as the days were racking up since our last ones, so a big thank you to him!

Today we are enjoying our first day where we don’t have to perform or cycle into Bath. We have taken it pretty easy so far, just collecting a bit of wood, doing a few chores and keeping ourselves entertained:

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