Saturday, February 13, 2016

A night at the opera

tosca 0We all decided that we needed to get out more often for social / cultural events: Barry Manilow is in town this summer, Carole King will be fabulous, and Tosca is playing in Woking.  Sung in Italian with English surtitles (translations on a reader board above the stage), Ellen Kent’s production was well reviewed and had the lush sets, professional singers, and full orchestra that would make it memorable.

Opera is a totally new experience for me.  My graduate advisor at Northwestern was a big opera fan, and I offered that I’d like to go see one some time.  If you haven;t been to an opera by the time you reach 21, you will never appreciate opera, he sniffed.  That was enough:” if opera  had that opinion of me, then that told me everything I needed to know about it.  And so the situation stood for 40 years.

IMG_20160212_230640We all took the train over (w.wezen on the right) and enjoyed a good Turkish tasting dinner together ahead of the show.  (No alcohol was served, necessitating occasional runs out to the corner store for bottles).  Then over to the New Vic to settle in, close to the stage and able to see it all.

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I thought that it was absolutely enchanting.  Although nearly 3 hours long, the production never dragged.  The characters were so broadly drawn that it was all great fun to to follow their contortions and emotions, and the soaring singing was first-rate.

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The story was confusing in spots (I didn’t pick up on what happened at the end until later when it was explained to me), and the surtitles were summaries rather than translations.  Intermission was a good break to glug some drinks and have a good chat about it all, and I got caught up with the subtleties quickly.

But it was colorful, emotive, and engrossing: really could not have asked for a better evening out together.  Next: Carmen, everyone agrees.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Still chugging along…

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‘dark along the country roads headed north, my tablet resting on my knee and calling out waypoints to the A34.  It may be the shortest route, perhaps the fastest, but at 6:30 am it’s a winding challenge through sleeping forests and villages.  I brushed the screen without looking down, reaching to shift: the tablet obligingly took a photo.

‘good morning, England.
It’s been a busy month, ‘lots to catch up with here in the coming week but generally everything going fine.  The travel schedule has been hectic, and while I am getting lots of time to think, I get all too little to write.  It leaves me feeling stretched and dissipated, and I know that I need to get back to more regular writing (and walking and reading and sleeping).
Entrepreneurs life
The businesses are doing well, both still on-track towards product release later this year.  The Notified Body, regulators who approve our products for sale, are coming to audit our facilities in March, and we have a lot of work to do to get ready.  We’re still pressing on with product and business development, investor and supplier meetings.  These always end up happening at their offices instead of mine, but it gives assures that they do happen.  There are, as always, a few procedural backsteps and recalcitrant people, but I’ve learned to put a smile on, head down, and press on.
DSC08637There’s  been turnover in Poole, Peter the retiree (UK) gone and Jo-Jo and Chiara (Italian) arriving to join Claudia (Romania) and Robert / Christa (Hungary).  I’m getting my wintering container gardens back into the sunlight and fed, easing back to a regular exercise schedule at the Leisure Centre.  I can do my HIIT routines again, but still have a bit of the holidays to knock off my waist.  I should start getting back onto the 5-2 plan as well.
DSC08603The weather has been horrid, turning bitter cold and stormy wwith gale winds along the shore and flurries in the forecast.  I’m ready: my camera came back from Lewis after 4 weeks away to swap out a lens. My overhead-storage airline bag finally fell to pieces after a Ryanair flight.  It felt momentarily symbolic, but I made a stop in Amsterdam for a new DSC08636flexible roller at de Bijenkorf that I am really liking.  I’m unfortunately missing Carnival this year, sacrificed to tight schedules.  But, instead, I am looking forward to going to my first Opera this week – a performance of Tosca near London.  And I’ve been gathering notes, pictures, half-finished essays to backfill some of the last month’s gap.
I’ll plan to be more regular in these pages going forward: the hardest part of writing is just getting started.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Enjoying Storm Imogen

DSC08646 (853x1300)A series of intense winter storms has swept over Britain this winter.  ‘not as bad as the 2013-14 series that flooded roads along Poole Harbour and briefly cut the peninsula off from the mainland, they have still disrupted travel with heavy downpour and gale winds.

The Met Office has taken to naming them in an effort to increase awareness, so the ninth storm of the year, arriving yesterday, was Imogen.  (They plan to avoid names beginning with Q, U, X, Y, and Z, and have been pretty balanced about male and female names).

Anyway, ‘always good fun to wander down to the beaches and along the cliffs to enjoy the spray and see what folks are doing.  First impressions, though, are simply of horrible biting cold atop Evening Hill and of the shifting bands of misty rain across to Brownsea Island.

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Closer to Sandbanks Cafe, more exposed to the wind, the sand was already shifting, covering the promenade and catching in my contact lenses.

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The KiteBoarders and WindSurfers had moved over to the Channel-side Sandbanks to take better advantage of the waves.  Bright against the dull grey of the gathering storm, they skimmed and jumped in every direction.

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The winds howled in the eaves and pushed at the windows all night.  But one lovely thing about the coast is how quickly it can all change. The morning dawned calm and bright, the sky scrubbed and the beaches hosting early walkers, down to scour for flotsam and treasure.

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