Advent 24: A British Christmas Eve

Everyday things suddenly become festive
Everyday things suddenly become festive
Scarce in Britain the last decade, mild weather this year has meant an abundance of mistletoe
The town gets crowded with men, who get drunk, do their final shop and harass the shop assistants for kisses with mistletoe. Listen Sisters! You don’t have to do it and get their germs  –  Just tell them Pagan is so Yesterday!
Buy a poem written by Budgie the Homeless Poet as a unique gift for your loved one rather than anything off the shelf.
Buy a poem written by Budgie the Homeless Poet as a unique gift for your loved one rather than an uncomfortable, sexy underwear set
Petrol (Gas) stations, where disorganised people can get pull up and fill up, get cash from the machine and buy what ever is left on the shelves for presents.
Petrol (Gas) stations open late on Christmas Eve while other shops close. Disorganised people can pull up and fill up on high-priced fuel, get cash from the machine and buy milk, logs for the fire, flowers and what ever is left on the shelves for stocking fillers as they have left it all to the last minute. “Sure she’d like this steering wheel cover!”
Brits tend to have high tea on Christmas Eve or party food followed by lots of drink as we have our main Christmas meal on the 25th at lunch time.
Brits tend to have high tea on Christmas Eve, a buffet which might include mince pies, prawn filos, mini beef wellingtons, salmon paté followed by a night of assorted cocktails, fruits and chocolates. We have our main Christmas meal on Christmas day lunch time.
accompany pianist for singers of carols at the pub
accompany pianist for singers of carols at the pub
carol singing in pubs is usually in aid of a charity
carol singing in pubs is usually in aid of a charity
On Christmas Eve stockings are hung by the fireplace and a mince pie and small glass of brandy is put out for Father Christmas - sometimes also a carrot for his reindeer. Though many British still hang their stockings at the end of their bed.
On Christmas Eve stockings are hung by the fireplace and a mince pie and small glass of brandy is put out for Father Christmas – sometimes also a carrot for his reindeer. Though many British still hang their stockings at the end of their bed.
Ssssh! Merry Christmas
Ssssh! Merry Christmas

 

 

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Advent 14: Silly Jumpers

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Christmas jumper party at the Southampton Christmas Market © SOL

As children we wore our Christmas sweaters all winter – They were more like the tasteful Nordic ones then only not as good crafting.

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Scene from Bridget Jones Diary (2001) 
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Presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield wearing Christmas jumpers

For anyone that has read or seen the Bridget Jones Diary (2001) movie, they will know that in the UK we wear silly pullovers at Christmas. Knitwear presents are popular and if your aunt has spent the year knitting that embarrassing sweater for you, then the least you can do is wear it to family gatherings over Christmas.

But since that film these jumpers have taken off in a big way. Sixteen years later, we now even import cheap acrylic ones from China. We have a Christmas jumper at work day to raise money for charity and Presenters even wear them on television! There are nights out and pub-crawls where it is compulsory to wear your Christmas jumper.

Here are more photos I took from the Christmas jumper night out at Southampton’s Christmas market – click on to enlarge:

Some of my favourites:

Take a look at these Cheesy Jumpers on WordPress

What do you wear at Christmas?

 

Goodwood Revival 2016

 

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Bubble car at parking meter outside reconstructed Piccadilly Circus

Like being on a giant film set

The first ever car-race took place at Goodwood race track 75 years ago. For the last 20 years there has also been a Revival, where vintage cars or bikes, race (and sometimes crash). There is a strict dress code for spectators; They must dress in vintage or authentic-looking retro clothing from the 40s, 50s or 60s. Goodwood also employs a number of actors and entertainers who take on characters from those eras.

For a few hours work each morning, I was able to enjoy myself for the rest of the day and take snaps. More people belong to drama groups in Britain than they do football clubs, so it is not surprising that so many make an effort to look the part. But visitors come from all over Europe and the Commonwealth.

The Sixties       (Click on photos to enlarge and read captions)

Each year there is a highlighted theme. This year because it was the 50th anniversary of the England football team winning the World Cup, it was England verses Germany 1966.

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Join in a kick-about with the 1966 England Team reconstruction
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Family day out
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We’re going to Wembley

 

Part of the grounds had a reconstructed football pitch where spectators could join the likes of ‘Bobby Moore’ in a knock-about. There was a parade around the track of traffic on their way to Wembley Stadium, which showed off owners cars that would have been around in 1966. The vehicles included vintage: police cars, milk carts, motorbikes, Mini and Bubble cars, Bentleys, Daffodils, Fords, Hillmans, Jaguars, Rolls, Sunbeams, Triumphs, Vauxhalls, plenty of public transport buses and coaches as well as Germans in Volkswagens.

 

The Fifties

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Dancing in the rain – we are use bad weather at some point during any British festival
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family fun fair
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Go roller skating courtesy of Butlins

The Forties

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Our North American allies and barbershop quartet
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Goodwood invites Veterans raising funds and awareness of D-Day
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There are vintage air displays from Goodwood Airfield. Everything from Dakotas to Lancaster Bombers

Beer tents are a must at British festivals – especially when it rains

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Heading for the Doom Bar beer tent
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Beer tents are always friendly
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Come step back in time
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stand-up atmosphere
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or you might be lucky to find a comfy chair
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There are a quite a few pub tents
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and gin bars
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Vintage cars are on sale
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One could almost forget that the main event is the racing
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Jackie Stewart (in the cap) Stirling Moss and many other first class drivers and celebrities race each year

 

Copyright © Southampton Old Lady. If you would like to use any of my photographs please consult me first.  If your stand or you yourself are in any of my photographs feel free to use them however you wish. Goodwood Actors Guild Members also have my permission to use any of these photos or add links for their profile purposes. Please credit: http://www.southamptonoldlady.wordpress.com wherever possible.  Thank you

 

Shakespeare 400 & Southampton

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Minature of Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton
Miniature of Henry Wriothesley 3rd Earl of Southampton

 

I love Shakespeare. Throughout the year Britain is celebrating Shakespeare 400.

Shakespeare died on his birthday, 23rd April 400 years ago. This is also St George’s Day (patron Saint of England). So this weekend there are special celebrations throughout the regions. I am going to many and thought I would highlight Shakespeare and his Southampton connections:

The Earl of Southampton

Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton was Shakespeare’s patron, especially during the era of The Globe theatre. Shakespeare made such a devoted dedication in his sonnet The Rape of Lucrece to Wriothesley, that many thought that there may have been a sexual relationship between the two, though I like others feel that is was just the language of the day.

Tudor Merchants Hall, which was once The Bull's Head. Although Shakespeare's patron The Earl of Southampton, had his seat outside the town, in Titchfield, he attended state functions in the town and is said to have drank here with some of the touring actors.
Tudor Merchants Hall, which was once The Bull’s Head. Although Shakespeare’s patron The Earl of Southampton, had his seat outside the town, in Titchfield, he attended state functions in the town and is said to have frequented this lodging house with touring actors.

Red Lion 1The Earl’s country seat was outside of the town of Southampton, but still in Hampshire, in Titchfield. Although his wife lived there, Henry Wriothesley spent much of his time in London, as did Shakespeare.

The Earl is also believed to have frequented or owned a pub in Southampton’s City Centre where travelling actors lodged. Some say this was The Bull’s Head (now referred to as The Tudor Merchant’s House); others say it was The Red Lion Inn. It was a council chamber where the trial of traitors from The Southampton Plot took place before it became an inn. In Henry V Act II, scene II, Shakespeare has the king sentence the plotters in the Southampton council chamber, then immediately set sail from the port of Southampton for Agincourt. Shakespeare must have listened to the Earl mention the Red Lion or some believe that Shakespeare may have had a drink there himself.

Southampton’s Bargate

Southampton Bargate front view.
Southampton Bargate
Bargate touring strollers area
Bargate touring strollers area

Shakespearean actors have performed at the Bargate and in theatres around the town since Elizabethan times, including Shakespeare’s own touring actors. Every British monarch has passed through this Bargate on their way to Southampton’s Port. Hangings once took place at the Bargate and according to legend The Southampton Plot traitors, that were written about in Henry V Act II, scene II, were hanged here.

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Westgate, where Henry V troops left for Southampton's Port to the Battle of Agincourt
Westgate, where Henry V troops left for Southampton’s Port to the Battle of Agincourt

 

Southampton’s West Gate and Port

The soldiers who boarded ships at Southampton for the D-Day invasion, took inspiration from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Some of Henry V troops passed through Southampton’s West Gate to set sail from Southampton to the Battle of Agincourt.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; 

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

Daring Theatre in Southampton

Ira Aldridge, the first black world famous Shakespearean actor performed in Southampton
Ira Aldridge, the first black world famous Shakespearean actor performed in Southampton

Southampton has a long reputation for modern or innovative theatre, Ira Aldridge is recorded as the first black Shakespearean actor. He had a limited experience of acting when he arrived from New York by ship, on which he worked as crew, in 1824. But following drama lessons and a stint at a University in Scotland, he became one of the highest paid stage actors in the world.

Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth
Sarah Siddons as Lady Macbeth

Ira was especially loved here in the South. He performed on stage in Southampton in the title role of Shakespeare’s Othello in 1828.

Many actresses, such as Sarah Siddons (she frequently visited Southampton and there is a theatre group named after her here: http://www.sarahsiddonsfanclub.org ) and sisters Charlotte and Susan Cushman have said to have performed Shakespearean roles in Southampton in the late 1800s. Women were considered too titillating to be allowed to perform Shakespeare at London theatres at that time and certainly would not have been allowed male roles.

The Cushman sisters, Charlotte and Susan, as Romeo and Juliet in 1846
The Cushman sisters, Charlotte and Susan, as Romeo and Juliet in 1846

Quotes used are from Henry V Act III Scene 1 (Before Harfleur)

Further links: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/2NKzPstNLT9cvcYMj9qdtT3/shakespeare-and-hampshire-where-his-footprints-are-lost-in-time

 

“Time, Gentleman Please!”

The Bent Brief
The Bent Brief closed in early 2015

In response to The Daily Post Photo Challenge: TIME and Pub No 3 in my series

TIME has been called on this popular Southampton pub that had a great reputation for live music. From opera to jazz, it offered a broad range of sounds. One of the pub’s former regulars was blues musician Gordon Haskell.

The highlight of the festive season was their annual pantomime – political satires written by Dr Julie Campbell who lectured at the University of Southampton; performed by students and locals together under the name of the £40 Theatre Company.

The Bent Brief‘s name was coined in competition with another pub further along Lodge Road: The Honest Lawyer (which I posted on the Photo Challenge: Change http://wp.me/p6jveM-gU ). This was due to the number of law firms that used to operate in the area in 1878. My father had been a local and met up with friends in both pubs.

To enter or see others: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/time/

Black & White in Colour 2: The Hobbit

The Hobbit, a famous pub in the Bevois Valley area of Southampton.
The Hobbit, a famous pub in the Bevois Valley area of Southampton.

The second in my series of black & white scenes photographed in colour. I also keep meaning to do a series about pubs in Southampton, so I will also call this Pub 1.

The Hobbit pub in Southampton, named after a Tolkien character, has been going for around 24 years and draws an eclectic crowd.

It has become world famous now for the law suit: The Hobbit Pub versus Warner Brothers, The lawyers, acting on the motion picture company’s half, tried to force them to change their name just before the launch of the film of the same name. The independent pub received backing both verbally and financially from British actors Ian McKellin and Stephen Fry in the right to keep the name, which was the first case brought against them. Now there is an ongoing battle over the names of their locally crafted ale and cocktails. The cases have been going on for about four years now. The Hobbit holds annual fund raisers to help support their claim.

Customers need to be over 21 and there is a small charge to see regular bands who play in their basement.

For more info: http://thehobbitpub.co.uk

Colour Your World: Copper

 

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Stiegl Brewery, Salzburg, Austria. January 2016 © Southampton Old Lady

In response to Colour Your World Photo Challenge:  A different calendar day – a different colour on the Crayola chart.  27 January 2016 = Copper

Fancy joining in?  Click here:  http://jennifernicholewells.com/category/color-your-world/

Netflix – The Crown

the-crown-netflixStreets are being blown up in Winchester today – not far from my city in Hampshire, as part of Netlflix/Sony filming a big-budget historical drama series called The Crown.

College Street and Kingsgate Street have all been cordoned off  except for actors costumed in 40s attire, and rubble has been placed outside The Wykeham Arms pub for the re-enactment of World War II scenes.

The Wykeham Arms

The Wykeham Pub and Cornflowers on College Street, Winchester
The Wykeham Pub and Cornflowers on College Street, Winchester

www.dailyecho.co.uk/photographs/news_galleries/2016/january/the_crown_in_winchester

I expect that Hampshire Council will well-paid for this inconvenience – at £100 million, the filming budget is said to be the most expensive television show ever produced in Britain.

My family and friends have travelled to various parts of Britain to work as extras since filming commenced last October. Despite having signed secrecy contracts, the scenes at weddings, funerals and stately homes are all over the internet. Netflix have also released a trailor on YouTube: https://youtu.be/n8Q0bJ_zO7w  More stills appear on https://youtu.be/P8fodkCDKLQ

The first two of an eventual series of six, concentrate on the Queen’s early years, her marriage to Prince Phillip, the death of King George IV, her Coronation and the Blitz. These are expected to be released all in one go this Autumn, after the last series of Downton Abbey has been aired in USA and Canada.

If the Netflix binge-watch is financially successful (and these sort of dramas have world-wide appeal) the next two series will be filmed.

The Crown’s creator is Peter Morgan (of award-winning films The Queen and Frost/Nixon). It stars Claire Foy (Anne Boleyn in the Wolf Hall series) as Princess Elizabeth, Matt Smith (Dr Who) as Prince Phillip and American actor John Lithgow as a very convincing Churchill.

UPDATE 4th NOVEMBER 2016 – The first 10 of the series is being released on Netflix tonight.

2016 Predictions: Land of Hope and Glory

Field becomes lake with haystacks
Field which has become a lake with haystacks

I returned home yesterday from visiting friends abroad. The view of England from the plane was one of waterlogged wheat fields and mossy-looking bog. I took quick snap-shots from the Southern Network train from Gatwick Airport to Southampton Central. It all looked green and glorious with the sun going down. More like April that January.

I have seen a few seasons like this in my time. When people worked hard to pay rent or mortgages and made great efforts to build up their homes, Mother Nature came along and just laughed at them.

In December, farmers that waited to bring in crops for the Christmas tables have suffered, as have field-reared animals such as sheep.

Predictions for 2016: Being a glass half-full person though, I predict a good building industry using new innovative technologies. I predict a good production of crops in Britain later in the year. Lamb and beef will be expensive, but pork and chicken will be cheap and people will try other birds like partridge. People will give locally grown foods their strong support, but there will be a big demand for imported exotic things like bananas, coffee, rice and especially pineapples. Mushrooms will be added to everything, Brussel sprouts will be eaten all year. Salads and chillis will grown in window boxes. British beer and even wine will become a world-wide trend and, of course, there will always be whiskey in the jar-o.

Roads become rivers
Roads have become rivers
Birds enjoying swamped fields
Birds enjoying swamped fields
Abundance of green
Abundance of green with constant water supply
Impossible to plant crops
crops (such as potatoes) will be late
Rivers widen
Boats become the preferred way to travel
Arriving home over the Itchen River, Southampton
Arriving home over the River Itchen Southampton

Victorian Festival of Christmas 2015

Oliver characters: Mrs Bedwin, Bill Sykes with his dog Bullseye and Nancy.
Oliver characters: Mrs Bedwin, Bill Sykes with his dog Bullseye and Nancy.

I took part in The Victorian Festival of Christmas at Portsmouth’s Historical Dockyard this year. If you have ever wandered why so many British actors get the best parts in Hollywood movies, then perhaps take a look at this year’s festival slide show on YouTube (by photographer Steve Spurgin)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mPDpbDtbO8

Most chimney sweeps were children.
Most chimney sweeps were children.
The prostitutes
The prostitutes
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Mr Darcy, Florence Nightingale, Prince George, Lady Pennywhistle.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Mr Darcy, Florence Nightingale, Prince George, Lady Pennywhistle.
Queen Victoria with John Brown
Queen Victoria with John Brown

With very little rehearsal, over 400 volunteers dressed in Victorian costume to bring this attraction to life, for thousands of tourists from all over the globe.

In the UK, we live and breath theatre from an early age, starting with making costumes to take part in the school’s nativity play. History is now taught by people dressing up and re-enacting the period they are learning about, be it Romans or WWII. To learn Shakespeare for exams we do not just read the play, we act it. More people belong to amateur drama groups in Britain than sports societies.

Portsmouth is the birthplace of Charles Dickens. The Historical Dockyard is where centuries-old ships, such as Nelson’s Flagship The Victory, HMS Warrior and The Mary Rose etc are moored.

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The dry dock is also where parts of Les Miserables was filmed. So all these scenes were brought to life by costumed actors, singers, school groups, historical and Victorian interest societies such as steam-punks or the Victorian Strollers.People from 5 to 80 years-of-age played famous Victorian or Dickensian characters for three full days and with very little breaks. It was in the open air while the tale-end of Hurricane Desmond was blowing a gale and in addition there were a few down-pours.

Suffragettes
Suffragettes

First visitors are greeted by carollers, then those in Victorian Uniforms, dockyard workers, stilt-walking-police, postal clerks, servicemen, sailors. Then by beggars, prostitutes and suffragettes – undertakers, a ruthless judge in a courtroom setting, prisoners, gliding angels, pearly kings & queens singing cockney musical hall ditties, workhouse children being enticed to steal by Fagin and the Artful Dodger, chimney sweeps, a green-gowned Father Christmas. There were snow machines, carousels, a Downton-Abbey type dinner table set with turkey and trimmings, various stage sets. There were three a pubs – one mock, one real with bands singing sea shanties and even an inflatable one. There was a market selling Christmas crafts and fayre from mulled cider to hog roasts.

Victorian Dinner Party
Victorian Dinner Party

I was part of Groundlings Theatre that organised around 200 of us. I played an aristocratic snob preaching Victorian manners. “It is the height of rudeness to have one’s elbows on the table.”  At the end of each sketch, Charles the Butler pushes a custard pie in my face. I endured around 40 of those!

Police with penny farthing bicycles.
Police with penny farthing bicycles.
Children learn about Victorian history by dressing up
Children learn about Victorian history by dressing up

The finale each year is a parade lead by a full pipe band in kilts and bear-skins and headed by Queen Victoria. We were not allowed to carry phones and cameras, so I could only took a few snap-shots in the Green Room. Most of these photos are from Portsmouth News.

Father Christmas at the helm.
Father Christmas at the helm.

For more info about Portsmouth Historical Dockyard visit: www.historicdockyard.co.uk