This has been a particularly difficult year. First, the closure of the theatres and then the constantly shifting dates for their reopening made it difficult to plan various events, both those requiring indoor facilities and some outdoor events. And, of course, all the planning for the Friday when the cruise ship was due went by the board when the visit was cancelled, as so many other such visits have been.
After some debate, we gave up on road closures and relied on our right to walk along the road, which necessitated some alterations to the planned parades, but, at least, allowed the parades to go ahead. In the event, the Saturday parade was a little short, possibly as a result of the rain, while the Grand Parade on Sunday was about the best I have seen.
As for those who think it should be banned, I do not understand your thinking. It is enormously popular with visitors and undoubtedly brings visitors into town – I don’t know how many, but there is no doubt that there are some – I have spoken to them. Moreover, it raises the profile of the town.
Last Wednesday, a coach load of Hungarian students saw Queen Victoria’s Tea Party, stopped their coach and came over to photograph the event. The students were delighted, obviously enjoyed themselves and took a vast number of photographs which will now go back to Hungary and provide the kind of publicity that money cannot buy.
There are some who suggest that the event should be replaced by something else. Consider this. It is put on by volunteers. Most of those volunteers do so because they are interested in the Victorian age or enjoy what they do. If the Victorian Celebration ceased and something else took its place, I doubt that the present group of volunteers would be interested. Instead of replacing one event by something better, all you would have succeeded in doing is to kill off an event which, even if it is not as popular as it once was, is still plenty popular with visitors.
Finally, some parents have complained that their children were not given the opportunity to take part in various events. Committee members approached all schools in Ilfracombe, hoping they would join in. Not all did. If your child’s school did nothing, why not ask the school why not?
The AGM will probably be in October. If you can contribute your time, money or ideas, why not come along?
On a happier note, I went to see the Old Time Music Hall on Thursday. Unfortunately, because the event had to be held in the Space, some people had to be turned away both nights as all seats were sold. Those who were able to get in had a marvellous time. For me, and, I suspect, many others, the high point was just before the final song and dance, when two “ladies” appeared on stage, the term “ladies” being used somewhat loosely. One buxom beauty bore a strange resemblance to Lee Baxendale – could it be his sister or his mother? The sketch was vaguely reminiscent of Hinge & Brackett, but somewhat less genteel. It had the audience in stitches.
Many people consider that strawberries are the taste of summer, and I certainly enjoy them, especially English strawberries and even more local ones. However, the fact that they are available all year round somehow makes them rather less special than they once were, even though the ones outside the English season seem to have suffered the curse of the supermarket, seemingly having been bred to look good without regard to the taste, which is often elusive at best.
For me, the real harbinger of summer are cherries. Somehow they have escaped that supermarket curse and are only available for a few months every summer, even the ones which are imported, and even those tend to be tasty. Just between you and me, Normans currently have some truly delicious cherries. I suggest you take advantage while they are still here, but, please, leave some for me!
Talking of summer, what do you think of summer pudding?
And finally, on Sunday, the last day of the Victorian and Steampunk Celebration, my wife and I had dinner at The Habit. We stayed on to watch the fireworks – that must be one of the best places in Ilfracombe from which to see the fireworks, yet, strangely, we seemed to be the only people taking advantage of it. Many thanks to TDK Lambda for their generous contribution, once again, without which the firework display could not have gone ahead.