Let's start with a storm: the torrents sprayed wildly on the audience by wonderful Folksy Theatre in Merlin's ECOS amphitheatre to get us all into the spirit of The Tempest on Wednesday evening. Musicians as well as actors, this endearing quintet held their audience rapt as they morphed between characters with speedy costume changes, from ethereal sprite & romantic lover to a couple of drunks, in the most impressively extreme case.
Sunday, August 01, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Starting, unusually, with a weather report: over 30°C all week until the dramatic storm in the early hours of Saturday morning. As I was born in a German air-raid over London, this seemed a very appropriate start for my birthday, although sadly other celebrations were either rained-off or plagued-off. But the long hot days were perfect for walking along the river path, and the glorious evenings lovely for a sunset trip to Marston Park.
Kerrang under the banner They kicked party politics out of town”: Spending the day with the punk rock mayor of Frome.
Monday, July 19, 2021
This was the week that temperatures leapt into the 30°s and, equally sizzlingly exciting for me, the first proof copy of my new book arrived. Deja Lu is a collection of 37 contemporary short stories, mostly previously published in anthologies & magazines or broadcast on radio, and the fabulous cover image is a section from one of the paintings of David Moss exhibited at the Silk Mill last month. Currently this is the only existing copy, but when a few essential small corrections are made, this will be available to all fiction fans, hopefully with appropriate celebrations...
Monday, July 12, 2021
Town walks are always popular in the festival, and this year they were more popular than ever, with themes ranging from biodiversity in the churchyards to Frome's history in terms of Slavery, Sedition, and Sin - this one was led by historian David Lassman and me - here's the final stop with David expounding routines at the old workhouse in the second of our 2 sold-out trips. Eleanor Talbot's latest Variations on a Theme programmes includes a focus on our talks - you can hear a bit of the interview at 19.40 minutes in, with the rest at 40.10. Episode 91 continues the festival tale, with more reviews and comedy clips.
Frome's quirky comedy duo Rare Species also offered a historical walk, though somewhat less reliable in factual data: here they re-enact the opening of Jenson Button bridge while actually on the footbridge.
The Hidden Gardens trail, outdoor entertainment of the horticultural kind, is always popular - this year over 800 maps of private gardens open at the weekend were bought by avid visitors. This is an absolutely lovely part of the festival, as Frome shares its passion for nature so generously, with 32 gardens to visit - I only managed ten but they were all magnificent in various ways. Here's one of several with a sumptuous lily pond, this one attended by glittering damsel flies.
St John's Church in the town centre always puts on a flower show for festival: the theme this year was 'Reconnection', expressed in displays created by members of the Frome Floral Art Society. Arrangements combined props to represent positive themes: the journey back to the outside world was expressed in various ways, one unprepossessingly adding a union jack, but this is a nicer one.
Ending this festival edition with a return to Marston Park for the finale, as the rain fell steadily on the lake and even the ducks scuttled into our covered stage area, and Bonne Nouvelle played two sets of their delicious mellow, nouvelle-vague style, covers. A superbly quirky finale to a fantastic week of Frome Festival.
And if one image could sum up my festival, it would be this snap by Rosie Eliot, of us happily ignoring the weather, and the state our country's in - just enjoying music and reconnecting our friendships.
Monday, July 05, 2021
And in other dramatic altercations: Flash-mob opera invaded the precinct on market day to the delight of a gathering crowd who heard a medley of arias wrought into amorous and acrimonious encounters by four incredibly talented performers. My comprehension of the lyrics was limited to andiamo so there's little else I can tell you, but it was magnificent - big thanks to the Cooper Hall foundation.Prospect Books, an elite London establishment which clearly has no notion of Frome culture as her publisher Catheryn brought only 2 boxes of books for this launch and was surprised that all copies were bought before many of the guests had even arrived. But the night was balmy and the bar was open, so we partied on.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
Malaika's confident and connective stage persona and supported by lighting graphics in a party atmosphere: sad as well as wild, this is one the exciting new projects outlined in the season launch.
Back now to Frome, for an extraordinarily vibrant art exhibition at the Silk Mill, where David Moss has managed what few solo exhibitors could do: he has filled virtually every inch of this massive hall with huge canvasses, all brimming with vivid colour. The opening was on Thursday night, and these stunning canvases will be showing throughout next week.
Also highly recommended - but you'll have to wait till the 'Hidden Gardens' event in Frome Festival - is the superb 'secret garden' in Critchill. I was introduced to this amazing place by Eleanor Talbot, whose Variations on a Theme radio show this week explores its nooks & crannies and discusses gardening and garden design. It's hard to choose a single image to convey the amazing range & display of colour and foliage created by the inspiring couple who have created this garden, but this one, from the far end, may give some impression of the care taken in design, and the vista beyond. And that wild flower area on the left will have burst into bloom by then.
Luke Philbrick's Solid Gone Skiffle Invasion after arriving to discover a pitch invasion in Cheap Street.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Still on a writerly theme, Frome's famous independent book emporium Hunting Raven is up for another award, nominated as Best Bookshop in the Southwest (Dorset & Somerset to be precise) by Muddy Stilettos - you can click to add your vote. Tina Gaysford-Waller, the Raven's inspiring manager, was also featured in the Big Issue 'Spirit of Independence' issue this week, celebrating the national Independent Bookshop Week, although this had passed rather unnoticed here since every week is independent bookshop week...