So while the lorry’s being mended, I’m homeless for a few days. It's having new clutch cylinders and an MOT. Fingers crossed nothing major is discovered and the season can begin with all systems go. It was a little disconcerting to leave it in a lonely commercial garage in Wrexham and hitch a ride back to my yard which now has a gaping empty space where we have been living for the past few months. The good news though is that the dogs and I are staying with Russ and Suzanne in their lovely house in Ruthin, enjoying the luxury of a proper bed, great food and a lovely bathroom! I love the occasional bath and they have a particularly nice one and so I indulge myself with bubbles and bath salts and deep hot water until I’m all pruny and squeaky clean. They are both great cooks and I’ve really been spoiled while I have been there. Russ fills up a hard drive with all sorts of good films and tv series so I go away armed with enough to keep me goggling for weeks! They are great friends and lovely people.
I wandered around Ruthin with the dogs for an hour or so before calling at their house. There’s a charming antique shop converted from a miniature cinema (picturehouseantiquecentre.co.uk) and I found a couple of old cases with brass fittings which I fell for and bought for a knock down price. One has the original silk lining and is probably 1930’s. The other is a briefcase. Not sure which props will go into them, but they’re really nice and fit the show perfectly. I love old cases, they have such lovely stories. Ruthin itself is a small welsh country market town with quite a few small antique shops and a regular indoor market. The craft centre which is where Suzanne is showing some of her furniture (www.suzannehodgson.co.uk) has some fascinating welsh crafts and artefacts and a great café with local food.
On Sunday afternoon Russ, Suzanne and I visited Conwy - a World Heritage site, one of only two in Wales. The castle overlooks the whole town and there’s some great walks along the walls. It took me back years to my younger days and the Conwy Festival which I used to attend for years with the old stage when it was built onto a old BMC lorry, an FG 550 which was also called ‘the threepenny bit truck’ (the threepenny bit was a pre-decimal coin worth about 2p with angled sides) as the cab doors folded back against the lorry body on the same sort of angle as the sides of a threepenny bit. I find it strange that I have to explain that to people but I guess I’m amongst the dwindling numbers who remember a childhood when a threepenny bit was a small fortune!
Only one or two more Cat’s Paw Theatre shows next week before the time comes to quit my acting job and become an entertainer again. First, though, I need to renovate and re-varnish all the parts of the stage and decide which props need replacing and what just needs a good clean. I have the new illusion to build too. There’s a good feeling about this time of the year – I am beginning to feel the season isn’t so far away now. In fact the first booking in Llandudno at the Extravaganza is in less than six weeks. Then I’m back on the road properly and can really continue to blog about my life as a travelling showman, which I’m sure you will find more interesting than all the personal stuff I’ve been wittering on about over the winter.
The diary for 2014 is almost as full as 2013 and it always fills up more once the new financial year starts and the councils know what they have to spend. I have just taken a Christmas enquiry for December 6th and 7th from Oxford Castle as a new customer and it will be great to be in Oxford near Christmas if it is confirmed. I was there a couple of years ago alongside the gaol and it’s a lovely venue.
And I’ve even been exercising – a yoga session every evening has made me begin to feel I can manage all that physicality in the show again. And still no alcohol. I’m going to try to get through the whole season without. A real challenge with all those real ale tents and events I go to! We shall see.
All the best from a road near you,