Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Glade tidings

Ah, the fleeting nature of pleasure, ponders Mr Gnome as he recalls his recent all-too-brief visit to Devonshire.

Back in the brou-ha-ha of the workaday world, he struggles to recall his wanderings along the coastal path.

This snap shows him pausing on the long descent, through woodland and meadows, to the secluded beach at Weston Mouth.

It was a perfect June evening: pristine sky, sea-dazzle and this year's rain-soaked greenness of grass and foliage. Birdsong. Breeze off the sea.

In short, a dose of pre-lapsarian bliss.

Now, at moments of stress or discouragement, Mr Gnome and the HB find themselves replaying their mind's eye video of this and other walks.

Instant solace.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Full on

How exciting to be present last week at the east Devon premiere of the musical version of the inimitable 1997 film.

You'd think perhaps that the Sidmouth Musical Comedy Society's production of The Full Monty - The Musical (Broadway and West End) might be a wee bit 'scaled down'.

Wrong! Director, big cast and pit band took book, lyrics and music by the scruff of the neck and gave a magnificently big-hearted, full-on performance.

The standard of singing was tip-top. Casting was equally spot on with the six principals capturing the courage, humour and vulnerability of their characters with skill and panache.

The musical sticks closely to the storyline of the movie, but with the action swapped from Sheffield to Buffalo in upstate New York. The cast rose splendidly to the challenge of American accents.

One sadness. The musical version has cut the key role played in the film by, er, garden gnomes.

Apart from that, ten out of ten. Hurrah!

Birth rites?

While in Sidmouth last week, I strolled several times past Clifton House at the foot of Peak Hill.

It was only on my third or fourth passing of my birthplace that I noticed these items on view in the ground floor window.

Noel Coward plus cheery gnome.

Was the old house sending me a wee greeting?


Friday, 13 June 2008

Sidmouth sojourn

No prizes for guessing that Mr Gnome's recent travels took him to Sidmouth on East Devon's glorious 'Jurassic Coast'.

Perfect weather, sea breezes and Sidmouth's unspoiled charm combined to provide a week that refreshed and re-invigorated.

This small seaside resort (population 14,400) seems to have the happy knack of combining modernity with a sense of having stepped back into a slower and more human-focused era.

There can't be many towns of similar size that boast a successful, independent department store (Fields - 'For service like it used to be').

Mr G will have more to say about Sidmouth in days to come.

Meanwhile, he celebrates his favourite local eatery: The Chattery in the High Street - the place for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea...

Friday, 6 June 2008

Mellow tone

Mr Gnome is preparing to go away for a brief vacation - hence the pose on the straw hat.

'Begone dull care!' breathes Mr G as he urges the HB to pack prior to departure on Sunday.

Their destination? Well, they're not going far - and are determined to return refreshed, reanimated and reinvigorated.

The hat, by the way, originates in the Amish communities of the Eastern USA. It offers absolutley no clues as to Mr G's destination - apart from the fact that this location is unapologetrically 'behind the times'.

Thursday, 5 June 2008


In the early spring of 2007 I betook me to the tranquil, unspoiled seaside resort of Sidmouth, East Devon.

Strolling along the pebble beach one afternoon, I notice a tall figure emerging from the sea. Wondering if he is the same gentleman that I've seen swimming at other times during my visit, I approach him.

'Excuse me, sir - do you swim all year round?'

'Oh yes, every day - except when it's very rough. I've had to be rescued a couple of times. A bit chilly today, so I was in for only fifteen minutes''

I'm about to congratulate him, when he says briskly: 'I suppose you are going to ask my age.'

'I wouldn't dream....'

But he cuts me off again: 'I shall be eighty-five in June.'

I have subsequently decided to make this splendid gentleman my role model for the almost thirty years before I reach my mid-eighties.

By the way, this picture was taken on 7 March.

Hurrah for him.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008


The spectrum of music inspired by the Christian gospel is, praise the Lord, of infinite variety.

At one end are, I guess, Handel's Messiah, Bach's St Matthew Passion and Gregorian chant.

And at the other....?

Well, never having heard the musical content of this album, I can't judge this arresting contribution from Uncle Les and Aunt Nancy, not to mention the elegantly dressed Randy.

But the cover art is, I feel, truly, truly special and, in its way, rather glorious.

And I'm certain that, out there somewhere, are middle-aged people with reason to be grateful to Les, Nancy and wee Randy.

And, en passant, a prophecy: I predict that within five years Nancy's upswept specs will once again be the height of chic....

Thanks to Brett for bringing this to my attention.