Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Spring in Glasgow

Oh, how I love the sunshine. British sunshine holds an extra special place in my heart because of it's immense rarity. This Easter weekend it all came together, the blue skies, the warmth, the brightness.

I feel better when the sun shines, I sleep better and it's so much easier to get out of bed when you have a cheery sun peeking through the curtains.

For the past few days I've been getting up and going for a walk through Kelvingrove Park, it has been a lovely way to start the day, fresh air, gentle exercise, and as I've typically been going before 9am I've had almost exclusive use of the pathways. A few over-keen joggers and dog walkers disturb the peace but they tend to move on quickly enough.

In my mind, Kelvingrove Museum is what the Red Keep at King's Landing looks like. Glasgow is full of architecture that wouldn't look out of place in a fantasy film, that's a lot of heavy stone and imposing towers. I like a bit of snobbery in my city buildings, glass looks fragile and shows up the dirt, give me some hand carved masonry any day of the week.

Getting outside at this time of year there's so much to see, and going the same way for a few days has given me the chance to really notice things I'd usually miss. I've seen chaffinches and bullfinches, tiny little long tailed tits, as well as blue and great (hner hner great tits). Which has really given me more respect for wildlife photographers, birds do not stay still for very long at all, how anyone manages to get decent shots of them is a mystery to me.

I noticed these red and white braided strings tied all over the lower branches of this tree, according to the all powerful Wikipedia they're probably Martenitsa part of a Bulgarian tradition called Baba Marta where you celebrate the oncoming spring and the end of winter. The red and white threads are a symbol of good health, you give them to friends and family who wear them until they see a tree with blooming buds and tie them on. I love traditions, especially the really old ones and how they spread across continents.

Have you managed to get outside while the weather's been beautiful? Do you have any traditions to welcome new seasons? For me the next step is having a barbeque...


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Romeo & Juliet by Scottish Ballet

Scottish Ballet have this wonderful initiative where if you are under 26 or a full time student then you can get tickets to their shows on the day of the performance for £10. Ten pounds! For a first class live show performed by some of the best trained and talented dancers in the world. And you don't just get the crappy seats, you get the best available seats that haven't sold, when I went in the box office man asked where I wanted to sit and showed me the screen of what was on offer, I took one in the third row of the Grand Circle- full price that seat would have cost about £40. It is slightly harder if there are a few of you going, and you might be a sat apart by a few rows but it's not as though you'll be talking to each other when the show is on and during the interval you get to go and catch up in the bar and buy drinks with the money you saved on tickets.

Alternatively, buy a programme and fawn over all the backstage photographs.
To go and see a film at the Odeon as a student costs £8.35 and I really don't get why. Okay they've got bigger screens but if I watch a film at home I can pause it when I need a wee or rewind it if I want to see something again, you can set the volume to your own personal preference and for less than £8.35 I can buy the DVD and watch it as often as I like. In bed if I feel like, they don't have beds at the Odeon.

Live performances are special, every single one is unique, you get to applaud the performers- and having been on the other side of the curtain, applause is one of those things that I'm grateful to be part of because I know how much it means to hear.

This production of Romeo & Juliet was choreographed for Scottish Ballet in 2008 by Krzysztof Pastor, who is now the director of the Polish National Ballet. It was a success at the time and again in 2010, now in it's second revival I was astounded. I knew Sophie Martin had been the original Juliet that the role had been made for so I was really excited that I got to see her dance the part with her original partner, Eric Cavallari, but when it started I didn't know how that was possible. 

It wasn't just that she looked young, she embodied the role so well. She has that headstrong, teenage, joie de vivre down pat. She giggled with her girlfriends, she was embarrassed when her mother told her she had to grow up, she was a proper little daddy's girl- at least in the first act.

There was so much more than good characterization it was that it was all so fresh, when Sophie and Eric danced together for the first time you believed it was the first time- not a role they'd been coming back to for five years.


Obviously in a production called Romeo and Juliet there are two roles that you expect to be done well but Scottish Ballet have talent dripping from their earwax and the entire cast was excellent. Victor Zarallo as Mercutio was hilarious. Don't know how ballet can be funny? For £10 you can go and watch this show and find out, because Zarallo was laugh out loud entertaining and you could see how much he was enjoying himself as he danced. Eve Mutso as Lady Capulet was aristocratic elegance in motion, she could show Lady Bracknell a thing or too about being proper. Owen Thorne as Capulet commanded the stage when he moved, he had that villainous I-am-not-to-be-trifled-with sense of his own self importance. He even had a mustache that I kept half hoping for him to start twirling, but that might have ruined the tension a smidgen.

There are three different rotations of the roles, you can see who's doing what when on the Scottish Ballet website HERE where there's also videos from rehearsals and lots more information about upcoming shows and productions. It's showing at King's Theatre Glasgow until the 26th April then it's visiting Aberdeen, Inverness, London and Edinburgh. There are £10 standby tickets available for students and under-26s at all the venues.

*This is NOT a sponsored post, I really do just think you should go and see the show*
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