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Sunday in the country and the city

March sees the official beginning of Spring and we seem to have been lucky enough that Spring has edged its way in just a little ahead of the vernal Equinox, giving us two weekends of sunshine in a row.  I went for a couple of healthy walks this weekend and admired the way the magnolias in our village have come out in only the last seven days:

mag2If you look closely, you’ll see this house has stone window ledges upstairs – very unusual.

On Sunday afternoon, I took the Lovely Daughters up to London.  Lovely Daughter #2 wanted to know why everything in the Underground is rounded.  Isn’t it easier, she wanted to know, to build things in straight lines?

“If this train were square, there’d be more room for my head.”

I have to admit that I’d not explicitly thought about the shapes of the tunnels before, but this question prompted us to remember that an arch shape is more stable than a flat shape and that lots of houses in our village have arches, windows or otherwise, held in place by a keystone.  In fact, I think you can just see such an arch in the corner of my first picture.

We were on our way to the Peacock Theatre in Holborn to see a Sadlers Wells hosted production of Shadowland by the American Dance company Pilobolus.  As it was such a nice day, we got out at Covent Garden station and walked.  Covent Garden was really busy, with lots of people taking advantage of the blue skies.

Covent Garden Apple Market


Covent garden in the sunshine, sans Dr Martens store

I was looking for the six storey Dr Martens store to show to Lovely Daughter #1, who practically lives in her classic black boots (luckily they are allowed to wear DMs to school, which I think is great – they are sturdy, long lasting, and have lots of room for young feet).   Sadly I think the London of my youth must have faded to memory and dust, as when I turned the last corner expecting to see the DM store in front of me, I found an Oakley in its stead.   On the plus side, the fact that I clearly don’t remember much about Covent Garden means that when we do have a bit more time to visit London, we will have somewhere new to explore 🙂

 Shadowland is about a teenaged girl who goes to bed one night and is sucked into a world of dreams.  In this world, she journeys, is pursued, captured, escapes, and finally “discovers herself”.

Some of the dancing takes place in front of the screen, but most of it is done behind it, with lights at the back of the stage projecting the shapes of the dancers towards the audience.   The dancing at the front of the stage mainly equates to “real life”, while that behind the screen is mostly representative of the “Shadowland” of dreams.

It’s fast paced, and I can only marvel at how athletic the performers must be.  Also impressive is the choreography, which must have been meticulous to get the relative sizes and positions of the shadows correct.  When you look inside the programme, you can see how different the dancers’ actual positions are to what we see on screen. I still can’t fathom how they managed to make this elephant:


There was a clever motif whereby our heroine was transformed into a girl with dog’s head quite soon into her dream.  There were hints that this might be representative of the girl’s situation in real life.  Perhaps it showed that she had her own desires, but found herself more the subject of other people’s plans than she would have wished.   I think that’s a common situation many of us can identify with…

All in all, it was a good show, and I really admired its technical brilliance.  When filling in the post-show questionnaire emailed to us by Sadlers Wells, Lovely Daughter #2 said that she would give the show 4 out of 5 stars. Bearing in mind that she has seen some roller coaster thrilling shows in her time!  I thought her judgement was spot on. For us, the show just lacked the emotional pull that would have made it perfect.

However we’re all looking forward to choosing our next trip out.  Dance is a good choice, as I think a lot of theatre would probably go over their little heads.  And it was nice to see Lovely Daughter #1 enjoying a trip out.  For a long time, she’s been really grumpy and unwilling about going out, so long may this new spirit of positivity continue.   Maybe that’s what some Spring air does for you?

There’s a clip here, uploaded by Sadlers Wells, if you want to experience your own taste of Shadow Land.



  1. Two consecutive weeks of sunshine…you’re blessed, Denise! We had some sunshine and toasty temperatures on Saturday, but pouring rain and cold temperatures on Sunday and today.
    I love the magnolias. I’m still waiting for ours to bloom. The Bradford Pears are in full bloom, but the minute we have winds over 20 mph, the beautiful blooms will be gone.
    Shadow Land looks like an entertaining show…thanks for the review. 🙂

    • Yes, that’s the problem with blossom, isn’t it? But I guess that’s why it’s so beautiful – it’s fleeting too.

      • Ouch, that’s bad. It does happen here as well, when we get a period of unsettled weather. We used to live next door to a little magnolia and I was very disappointed when that happened.

      • There’s still hope for the Magnolia, as it hasn’t bloomed. The beautiful Purple Leaf Plum will be history soon. It’s so pretty, but so fleeting. Thank goodness for cameras. 🙂

  2. I think if tunnels were square they would not be able to support themselves so well. In other words, they’d collapse. Although, I”m hardly an expert on this.

    Shadowland looks good. It looks quite cleverly done too.

    • I think you might be right! The more I think about it, the more I am realising how ingenious a tunnel/arch is.

  3. I’m very envious of all that sunshine! We’ve had a little but it seems to have moved on and made way for yet more blustery winds – I guess that’s the North/South divide for you 😉

  4. What a great day out. I’m trying to come up with forthcoming ideas to get Aspie D out. She hasn’t been feeling well lately and she really needs some sunshine, especially since her Vitamin D deficiency diagnosis. She loves the theatre and I think she would really enjoy Shadowlands. We are hoping to get to Phantom of the Opera later in the year or Lady in Black which I know she would really like! She loved The Lion King a few years ago. She also loves Doc Martens and lives in hers!
    Lovely to see the photo of your beautiful young lady 🙂

    • It can be hard and difficult when children don’t enjoy going out 😦 It seems such a fundamental thing to want to go out and see things, be excited by things, enter a different world – I didn’t really know what to do when LD was in her phase of wanting to be in all the time.

      Have a good time at whichever show you decide on and let us know how it is,

      • Yes, I found this incredibly difficult too. Since Aspie D’s diagnosis I came to understand it better and so it helped me not to feel so stressed about it and then I came to accept it. I get a lot of comments even now about ‘trying to get her to get out more’ but it’s just not that simple. You are doing just the right thing Denise, giving your LD her space when she needs it and then taking her out when she is ready and I found accepting this very helpful indeed. You are clued in to what she enjoys so she will want to go out more, I’m sure of it 🙂

        Thank you and I certainly will let you know, although it won’t be until later in the year…something to look forward to 🙂

      • People always mean well, but I hate it when they say “try to get her to…”. With some kids that is fine but the worst thing for LD#1 is to “get her” to do something. She is very independent. So I end up feeling either churlish for refusing their advice, or foolish for nodding and agreeing when I know it is wrong.

  5. Magnolias are one of my favourites in spring.
    The ballet looks fantastic – the creativity is brilliant and as for the technical ability required … thanks for bringing it to our attention Denise – I shall send a link to my Dancing Niece.
    Oh, and the Doc Martens shop – it’s now in Neal Street, not too far away from the Piazza.

    • Aha!!! I have a feeling that Neal Street is where we will be headed next time we go to London. Thanks for that!

  6. Glad that spring has arrived! We’ve enjoyed several beautiful weekends in a row only to have snow during the week. It’s been the oddest winter!

    It’s great that you took your daughters to a show. I don’t know why we took our son to Miss Saigon when he was 4…he definitely couldn’t appreciate it then. We haven’t gone to the theater since, but I’d like to start up again.

    • When it was warm I said I couldn’t imagine it ever being cold again.  But I’ve had the fire on most nights for the past week.

      I don’t know Miss Saigon, but I think some musicals could be OK for a 4 year old.  Joseph and the Dreamcoat!  We performed this at school when I was 10. I guess the stage could be a long way away.  Also sometimes I go to films and I wish they’d left their 4 year old at home, as they really don’t seem to appreciate what is going on.


  7. I love your daughter’s question. I think the kids come up with fantastic questions sometimes because they have such fresh ways of seeing things. Dance sounds like a fabulous thing to take your daughters to, and this show seems to be so unusual. And wasn’t the sunshine lovely? After such a rainy winter, it’s been lovely to see the spring.

    • Yes, she’s very into the triangle for being the shape of stability. Straight lines, she thought, would be easier to build.

      A triangular shaped tube system would be interesting.

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