Sunday, February 14, 2016

'To Lyme they were to go..'

Like Captain Wentworth's party of pals in Persuasion, Rosie and I were 'wild to see Lyme' on our writing trip last weekend, and Lyme was wild to see us, too. We arrived as storm Imogen was dancing like a tiger along the Cobb, rattling the pebbles and slapping the sand into a new beach. We watched entranced from our sea-front window, then I set off to get provisions from the shop at the top of the hill, agreeing with Jane Austen that 'A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.'  That was when the sky join the sea in a combined assault. Rain instantly made the road a waterfall, indeed rain was making the air a waterfall, soaking me literally to the skin in moments, my boots transformed into rain-barrells. It was wildly exciting though red wine & chocolate were required for full recovery.
Next morning all was calm in blue-skied sunshine. The Cobb looked distinctly hungover but must have yielded great beach-combing for the fossilists - as Lyme's superb museum calls its collectors. Fossils are to Lyme Regis as books are to Hay-on-Wye, I discovered, and as much a feature as its Jane Austen and French Lieutenant's Woman connections. The museum has everything you could want to know about all these aspects of the town's story, plus other artistic connections like Beatrix Potter and the painter Whistler, and a fascinating chronicle of the town's rebellious history. One of the few anti-royalist southern towns in the Civil War, they resisted Prince Maurice's contemptuous boast that taking Lyme would be 'a breakfast time job' and survived their long siege successfully ~ with women playing a significant role in all the action.
And as we were there to research Lyme Regis now, as well as then, a visit to the gorgeous Alexandra Hotel gardens for coffee in the conservatory was essential. So now we've found the settings and the inspiration all we have to do is create the play! Simples...

Back in Frome, it's been another great week for music. Grain Bar Roots Session featured the The Spoonful, 'from toe-tappin' rootsy blues to mellow' - I loved their creamy name-song - and on Saturday the marvellous Captain Cactus and the Screaming Harlots played a superb session in the Artisan. No pig-head this time but still charmingly random and highly energetic, with audience participation of yogic chants and dancing...

And on sunny, chilly, Sunday it was great to walk to Nunney for the monthly Acoustic Cafe ~ this one featuring the awesome talent of Darren Hodge. Darren was just 15 when he gigged with the legendary Tommy Emmanuel, and four years on he still looks 15, but his self-taught skill on the guitar is phenomenal: take a listen to Cannonball Rag which he played in his set today.

Black Swan Arts had two new exhibitions this week so I should be reminding writers about Words at the Black Swan on the first Sunday of the month, but sadly the Independent Market on March 6th is cancelled which means the gallery won't be open either for the poetry workshop.  Hopefully we'll be running again in April, and in the meantime there's the Poetry Cafe Love Night at the Garden Cafe and Maggie Sawkins at the Merlin with  Zones of Avoidance which won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in poetry. Yup, Frome still rocks.

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