Due South
14-16 September 2013

Just had a fantastic weekend away “down south” with the LAO.  We met up at one of the members’ house in Wickwar on the Saturday. Had a full day of rehearsal under the extremely capable guidance of Pete Rosser – it was really good to have a “new ear” to listen to us, as he could pick out all sorts of bits for us to work on. Saturday night we all made a huge vegetable curry with lots of home-grown veggies and drank copious amounts of wine! We ladies certainly know how to eat and look after ourselves.

Sunday we moved up to Dursley. We were doing a gig there in the evening so we rehearsed all afternoon, this time with Karen Tweed, our venerable leader. The room wasn’t huge so we decided that we would do the concert “in the round” with the orchestra sitting in quite a tight circle in the middle of the room and the audience around us. It was great for us as we could all hear each other really well, but it seemed to be good for the audience as well. They were invited to get up and swop ends in the interval if they wished! Interval time for us meant a delivery of fish and chips for all! It was a great evening.

Next day there was an armada of small vehicles, full of ladies and instruments, heading purposefully down the M5 to St. Ives – I had no idea it was such a long way! We arrived there around lunch time – well eating is important – and the cornish pasties and cinnamon and fruit squares hot out of the oven were out of this world. It was a lovely sunny day, St. Ives looked beautiful, so we had a little relax on the beach before heading for the theatre. It was huge!! An enormous stage, about 4’ above the auditorium, together with an upper stage and steps down each side to the main stage, a proper dressing room full of wigs and props and with the special lighting around the mirrors, separate stage entrance with (unlit!) stairs up to the stage – amazing. We normally walk on playing to start the first set and there was a great deal of discussion as to whether or not we could enter on the upper stage and walk down the stairs, playing, to take our seats on the main stage. This gave the Health and Safety man a pink fit so we had to abandon that idea! However, trying to negotiate the stairs up to the wings (with no lighting) and then through the wings themselves and onto the stage was quite difficult enough so perhaps he had a point! When we arrived on stage it was to find that each of us had a bottle of water by the side of our seats – just like real artistes!

The gig was part of the St. Ives festival with such names as Fairport Convention, Show of Hands and Jamie Smith's Mabon on the bill. And us !!! Over 100 tickets had been sold already so it was a huge  audience for us, and they were so enthusiastic. For the second half many of us had dressed up in whatever we thought was suitable attire to create a St. Ives theme. The prize has to go to Anna who was sporting a waterproof cape in a very fetching shade of orange/yellow, complete with fishing net! And she played a solo wearing it all! Karen cheated and raided the costume cupboard and found a sailor’s outfit, although she did add a plastic bucket and spade. It was a great gig and a lot of fun. We all repaired to the local Indian restaurant for much needed food afterwards – and alcohol – and a general post-gig natter.

by Annie G