His daily ritual – clearing sticks from the weir. We surprised a grey heron this morning, and a squirrel pelted him with Cobb nuts! It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it :D
We had a wonderful uphill walk at Cherhill this afternoon. Plenty of wild flowers on the chalk downs. Rolo got scent of something and scampered down the banks with me in pursuit. He was oblivious and an anxious 15 minutes of whistling and calling followed. As feared, he had disappeared down a vertical chalk shaft. Eventually I heard a distant answering bark from deep within the hill. It seemed like hours but was only minutes later a very subdued chalky Rolo emerged and I quickly attached his lead. He had definitely had an encounter with something underground and seemed quite shaken. I hope this makes him think twice before diving down a hole but I doubt it. For now he’s staying on his lead on the downs. Too much adventuring! He’s now snuggled up under a blanket lying on my feet fast asleep.
Rolo has a new role during his morning walk and swim in the Kennet. When he gets to the bridge he jumps down into the weir and removes any branches and sticks that have swept down river to collect in the corner. He does this from the safety of a platform and takes his job very seriously. Will be signing him up for ARK (action for the River Kennet). Anyone who has read his 2nd book The Chilvester Passage, will know that Rolo has already helped with a trout counting survey. This stick clearance job he has taken on all by himself. No one asked him to do it but we can’t walk past without him jumping in and pulling out the sticks.
I did a bit of experimenting with coconut oil, peanut butter, honey and oats and came up with a wonderful recipe for wheat and dairy free flapjack. I used honey to sweeten instead of sugar and added dates for flavour but I think you could add almost anything; cranberries, bananas, blueberries, sultanas, dried apricots. I used Waitrose goji berry and seed mix (one packet) but could use any nuts/seeds.
4 tablespoons of peanut butter (smooth is fine or crunchy for texture)
3 tablespoons of coconut oil plus a scraping for greasing the tin
3 tablespoons honey
300 grammes oats
A handful of dates (or other dried fruit)
1 packet of goji berries and seeds (Waitrose) – optional
Mix all together and spread in a greased baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes at 200C (180C Fan) or gas mark 6. Leave in tray to continue setting when you remove from oven. Do not overcook – it only needs to be golden. Cut into squares. Store in a tin but it won’t be for long because it’s too delicious :D
Winterbourne Opera’s awesome 2015 production of Gounod’s ‘Faust’ has just finished. My only regret is that I attended the opera on the last night and could not share this with you in time for you to see it. This is the 5th Winterbourne Opera production I have attended and once more my expectations were surpassed.
The use of The Chapel Nightclub in the middle of Salisbury was an inspired choice. For one, the seats were a lot more comfortable than some previous venues. The former Victorian chapel lent itself very well to the staging and the stark scenery – especially the magic fountain – focused the eye on the action towered over by the redundant organ and gothic architecture.
The raison d’etre of Winterbourne Opera is that the local choral group under the current presidency of Hilary Sharland invite upcoming opera students to audition, giving the successful candidates the chance to sing lead roles and be accommodated locally for three weeks for rehearsal and during the week of performance. What a fabulous opportunity for these young people in the summer – most do go on to great things in the operatic world no doubt enhanced by the addition of this accomplishment on their CV’s. The musicians too are of extremely high calibre under the energetic direction of Calum Fraser and to my mind the whole production is one of exceptionally fine quality worthy of Glyndebourne or Covent Garden.
Perhaps I am waxing lyrical because I am still under the spell of marvellously malevolent Mephistopholes; Colin Brockie who absolutely mesmerised the audience from his first entrance to the end of the performance. With menacing eye make up which enhanced his alternatively wicked and sometimes twinkling glint, along with the hand gestures which directed the movements of the cast, we could only watch in fascination the ghastly unfolding of the familiar tale of the man who sold his soul to the devil.
The soloists as we have come to expect of Winterbourne were strong (especially Ian Beadle, Mark Nathan and the angel) and Jess Broad’s Marguerite brought tremendous emotion to her final scene – I was weeping with her.
I’m so sorry if you missed it – this production of ‘Faust’ definitely deserves to be performed to a national audience. Well done Ben Occhipinti and Winterbourne Opera! What could follow?