Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Honey Room

Mrs The Millbrooker and I took a minor constitutional yesterday, despite the grey skies and traditional Cornish weather (drizzle).

Our avowed intent was to visit the charity shop in West Street and then try out Millbrook's latest commercial venture: The Honey Room.

The charity shop visit was fruitful, I got my hands on an old style hairbrush and mirror set of the type often seen atop a dressing table. Hideous looking thing, but exactly what I need as a prop for the next show - and for only 50 of our English pennies!
From thence it was but a short hop into Jo and Rose's excellent greengrocery shop and out through the back into their Honey Room cafe.And what I delight we found within - it's a light and airy space with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It's exactly what Millbrook has been crying out for: a relaxed cafe to meet in, to chat, to simply pass the time.

Rather fittingly, and completely unexpectedly, the place seemed to be mostly populated by cast members from Snow White: The Wicked Queen was there, sharing a table with Snow White and Prince Kevin (AKA Tooty McBadass); Sleepy the dwarf was at another table and Ross the sound-and-lighting man (who, it should be said is also a performer in his own right) was behind the counter doing his day job. Ollie (remember Ollie and Ivy?) is also employed within.

The menu is vegetarian and very reasonably priced:Must say, my latte accompanied by a slice of date and apple flapjack was scrummy. Mrs The Millbrooker thoroughly enjoyed her Cornish Easter biscuit, too.

There's a potted history of the building on the menu as well, which makes for interesting reading:
Should you find yourself in West Street and fancying a wee snackette or decent cup of the warm stuff, do give The Honey Room a try: in through Widdicombe Fare's shop front and turn right; you'll not be disappointed. In better weather than we had yesterday, you can sit in the garden as well - now that sounds like a pleasant spot to while away an afternoon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Plug For Bern the Lens

Everyone's friend and fount-of-all-knowledge in things historical and railway oriented, Bern the Lens, has an exciting new venture.

Not only is he a published and respected author in his field (his "Steam Around Plymouth" is an acknowledged classic - buy it here), but his photographs are widely published in other authors' works and in numerous journals and publications throughout the country, too.Now Bern has teamed up with a mate of his to create a space where enthusiasts, journalists, photography fans and anyone seeking a perfect gift for Uncle Brian (come on, everyone's got an Uncle Brian tucked away somewhere) can get themselves copies of his work, printed in high quality and at full size ready for framing.

The site is at, I thoroughly recommend taking a peek.

Another Comment From the East

Ah, but the world is full of new and exciting places; full of new and exciting people. Full of wonder....

But, somehow, everyone washes up in Millbrook eventually. This is a universal truth, acknowledged by almost all.

Word of Millbrook and the comings and goings of some of its inhabitants and those of Millbrooker Towers in particular has reached the far shores of the east, and I'm grateful for the comment left on the "my very favourite photo" post (2 below)....

"I love readding, and thanks for your artical........................................."

This is from 睡衣, whom I must assume is not from Millbrook.

I have no idea whether 睡衣 is my reader's real name, or an internet pseudonym but as it translates from Cantonese as "pyjamas" or from Japanese as "cloth sleepwear", I'd guess the latter.
(thanks to Google's translation page).

How People Find Me

As I've muttered about before, I quite like to meander through the hits I get on this site; checking through the hit counter to see how people end up reading the drivellings of a slightly bewildered Millbrooker.

I've been doing so again this morning during all-to-frequent displacement activities from learning the myriad lines in the forthcoming production.

Often I think they must go away quite disappointed; I can't imagine for a moment that the eager searcher on Google looking for "French bird" actually wanted my shots of a northern wheatear in autumn plumage. Nonetheless, that's what he/she ended up with.
Add Image
Nor indeed can I believe that the person who, at five past ten last night, sat in front of their computer and typed into Google's search bar "tricia stubberfield nude photos" was overjoyed to find themselves guided to the post only two below featuring this decidedly non-nude photo and not a sign of the delightful (certainly when clothed, I've never experienced the nude version) Ms S to be seen...A decent excuse to publish my favourite photo again, though.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some Panto Pics

Well, like I suggested in my last scribblings, time is at a distinct premium at the moment.

I suspect that most readers are heartily fed up with the endless drivel about Snow White up at Maker last week; but truthfully it's taken up so much of my time that I've done and seen precious little else since about the 12th of Feb.

This won't be the very final piece about board treading, I'm recording an Insight Radio piece on Thursday all about coping with being a vertically challenged dwarf with a visual impairment. As soon as I get a copy I'll stick it on a podcast and it'll be on these pages.
I'll take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make the panto happen; I'd not been on the stage for ten years and I'd not realised how much I missed it - what a team we all made in the end after numerous shambolic rehearsals. I'm very proud to have been counted amongst the ranks of "Dwarves United" in the green room.
And a thank you as well to those who made the trek up Maker Lane to the dark recesses of Maker Camp's Energy Room to watch our efforts; to boo and hiss in the right places and to make plenty of noise just like a panto audience should.
Meanwhile, rehearsals are already underway for a production at Maker on 22/23 April (definitely one of those dates, possibly both). It will be a long way removed from pantomime, and I'm keeping the project's title under wraps at the moment until I get the performing rights licence. Please keep the dates free, though, I'd be delighted (as would my bank manager) to see you there.
So - here's a selection of photos from dress rehearsals and performances of Snow White; It think it's safe to say that everyone had a whale of a time and I believe there's talk of putting on a show next year. (Thanks to Tricia, Earless of Rame, for the first six of the photos below which I have shamelessly stolen from her Flickr site and to Mrs The Millbrooker who loyally turned up to watch on the Thursday night and took the rest of the shots below).

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My Very Favourite Photo

If you've been following the exciting developments at Maker over recent days, you'll know that we had a terrific time performing Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

I'm now in the midst of a very long seven days of very long shifts which makes writing much on these pages quite difficult; I reckon I'll finally get time to witter on at my usual length by Monday or Tuesday with perhaps a couple of brief pieces of nonsense between times.

Meanwhile, Tricia Stubberfield - our very own Earl Wodney of Wame - has proved to be a great photographic recorder of events during the panto. I reckon this photo deserves a prize in any competition that has a theme like "joy" or "fun". Just look at those faces as cast members see the silent movie "The Death of the Evil Queen", as used during the production, for the first time.

From L-R: Jo (Evil Queen/director), Jon (Dorace), Pete (Sir Edward), Alan (Horace), Demelza (Sleepy), Sharon (Happy), me (Grumpy).

I'll write some more about the panto as soon as I can and I'll be recording the Insight Adventure for Insight Radio about the experience on this coming Thursday for probable broadcast on Friday.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Panto News

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves has sold out! Yep - absolutely 100% not-a-seat-left-to-be-had sold out. All three nights.
There was a day long rehearsal yesterday involving much theatrical waiting around. Someone muttered darkly that being in a play is like being at war: long periods of boredom interspersed by brief moments of intense activity and excitement. Ever-so-slightly less bloodshed, though, I expect.

Tonight is dress rehearsal (with two full "as live" performances if time permits), and then we're on. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. I would be making noises about buying tickets, but they're all gone.

In the meantime I'd like to thank La Sumpetta and The Sump for the very kind "good luck" card that La Sumpetta dropped off here a few days back. Sadly they can't make it to the show, but I really appreciate the wishes. Cheers, guys.

I'm a Camera

"What in heaven's name is the old plonker on about now?" I hear the subversive mutterings from the cheap seats. "I'm a Camera, indeed!"

This wee posting concerns Mrs The Millbrooker looking after me in our hideously crowded capital city and meeting up with one of the leading lights of the I'm a Camera theatre project. And with one of our original Blogstars, The Wizzers of Soz, who made the trip all the way from Soz just to have lunch and a chat with her mater and me.

As so oft before, the day began upon the railroad (what on Earth I'm going to do when I no longer get free travel after leaving the railway's employ, I don't know). Actually, the day began with the usual sort of morning routine, roughly common throughout the developed world: stretch, moan about getting old and creaky, shower, cup of tea, bite of breakfast, avoid eye contact with anyone until first few morsels have passed lips... It was Churchill who said "My wife and I tried to breakfast together, but we had to stop or our marriage would have been wrecked." Mrs The Millbrooker and I can, and do, breakfast together, but it's the exception rather than the rule; apart from anything else, I like a massive traditional first meal of the day and she prefers a delicate bite of fresh fruit unaccompanied by other forms of sustenance.

But, I digress.

The Wizzers of Soz hopped aboard our train at Reading and after we'd all survived the crush of Paddington underground (I really would find that hard, if not impossible, without Mrs The Millbrooker's help), we emerged at Fulham Broadway and dived straight into a nearby TGI Friday's on Wizzers' insistence. She likes TGI Friday's. This is she, hiding behind my glass of cranberry juice.One slap-up lunch later and my minders took me to The Dance Attic Studios to meet up with Janey Clarke (she of, amongst other things, "I'm a Camera" fame) for my first coaching session. This is yours truly and Janey just before heading off upstairs to do thespian things in a rehearsal room.I won't go into minute detail about the 90 minutes that I spent in Janey's company. Suffice to say she took me way outside of my theatrical comfort zone, challenged me to try all sorts of new acting techniques, shoved a camera in my face to produce an intimate close-up portrait of my (very inadequate) portrayals of a good-cop-bad-cop scenario, got me to improvise my way into and out of a scene; I left feeling both drained and highly elated.

I learnt more about acting in that 90 minutes than I've learnt in the last 20 years. I'm a good amateur; I've got miles to travel before I'm employable in the professional ranks (my words, not Janey's - she never uttered a discouraging word), but I'm strapping on the walking boots and exercising the hitch-hiking thumb muscles. I'll give it a damned good try.

My team of minders awaited my descent from the eaves of the Dance Attic in the ground floor cafe... ...and one cup of coffee later we reversed the London-bound rail journey to Bath and made our way, using the world's oldest mode of transport , back to Milly and Trickers' place for a very welcome cuppa before heading out for yet another slap-up feed. I think I might avoid the scales for a week or two.

A Week Whistles By

I glance at my watch this morning as I sit before the old steam-driven jalopy of a computer that I bash these musings out upon to find that it's a week since I last sat here and poured nonsense into the ether. A week! And I haven't even been on holiday.

But I have been a busy Millbrooker.

Last week Monday to Thursday consisted on rising at stupid-o'clock-in-the-morning to meet the entirely unreasonable expectation of my employer that I turn up for work when I'm supposed to. After the better part of nine hours' mindless slavery, I found that writing anything vaguely coherent on these pages was beyond me (very little change there, then).

And then immediately after work on Thursday it was off on the iron horse to Taunton and thence to Weston Super Mare and a reunion with Mrs The Millbrooker, who was already there, to provide the good publicans of that town with copious quantities of beermats and posters proclaiming the benefits of being tested for chlamydia.
Mrs The Millbrooker and I dropped beermats and posters at something like 20 establishments in the faded Victoriana and low-rent kiss-me-quick town centre that graces Weston-Super-Mud (as it's affectionately known throughout the English speaking world) before guzzling on a Wetherspoon's Curry Night special and heading to a B&B for the night. This one to be precise:In the unexpected event of any reader heading to Weston for a night or two of fun and frolics at such nightspots as HotShotz or Vee's Bar, I'm happy to recommend The Spreyton Guest House - it's scrupulously clean, nicely furnished and our room was very comfortable.

Friday morning saw us driving around Nailsea, Clevedon and Portishead doing our impressive Dong impersonations by throwing beermats at bemused publicans in each of these Somerset towns before finally heading to the relative tranquility of Milly and Tricker's pad in our old stamping ground of Bath and a scrummy evening meal of slow roasted pork belly, prepped by Trickers' own fair paws. (My goodness, what a long sentence that was, I'm quite out of puff after writing it). Lacking any photos of Trickers' culinary handiwork, we'll just have to content ourselves with a shot of Mrs The Millbrooker in Milly and Trickers' living room.Now, Saturday got quite exciting, but I'll leave that for another time.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Grumpy Makes An Appearance

There's been an almost deafening silence as regards anyone asking to see pictures of me using what we actorly types like to refer to as "The Method" in my portrayal of that most misunderstood of characters from the classical repertoire, Grumpy.

In true Grumpy style I'm therefore throwing a hissy fit and publishing a couple of shots of the recent rehearsals, kindly donated by Earl Rodney (look, if I'm Grumpy then the rest of the so-and-so's are being called by their characters' names as well).

Just to remind anyone who wants to go but hasn't yet got a ticket - you need to move fast now. Thursday 18th is already sold out, including the extra seating nailed to the rafters. Wednesday 17th is quite full, but you can probably still get a ticket if you're quick: try Widdicombe's or the Spar in Millbrook or The Rising Sun or Cross Keys in Kingsand / Cawsand. There are still seats left for the opening night, Tuesday 16th.

The show is at 7:30 in the evening at The Energy Room, Maker. The Random Arms will be open from 6 o'clock for early arrivals many of whom might think it a good idea to have a couple of stiff ones before taking their seats.

Meanwhile, here's possibly the largest Grumpy yet known to thespianism patiently waiting in line to appear before an expectant crowd of fellow pantomimers.And in rather becoming close up, demonstrating a finely tuned gold mining technique with plywood and hazel stick pick-axe (Sneezy is next to yours truly, with Bashful just behind).

Eventually, we were allowed onto the stage, where we rehearsed very hard by saying things that approximated the wording of the script in roughly the right places, and doing so several times before singing lots of dwarf-like songs.The eagle-eyed amongst you might notice that Grumpy is not actually the tallest dwarf on show. Dopey shades it by an inch or so.


Goodbye Blackberry Wine

Mmm - there's a song in that title somewhere*....or perhaps not.

What seems like half a lifetime ago, I mashed up a few pounds of blackberries, poured hot water all over them, added yeast and a few other mysterious chemicals from the Almanac of the Vignoble's Art.

The resultant mush was strained delicately through a (washed) pair of Mrs The Millbrooker's old tights and bunged into a demijohn for a while to bubble away through an airlock.

Last night, after a marathon six hour rehearsal session of being Grumpy (note capital "G") in the bracing atmosphere of Maker's Energy Room, and also after a pint or three at the D&C whilst in full dwarf costume, I breached a bottle of the pale red liquid. Hmmm - decent colour if I do say so myself.Mrs The Millbrooker took camera-controlling duties because she reckoned I should try the stuff first. So I did.Closely followed by the lady of the establishment.At the risk of blowing my own, so to speak ("do you ever do much else?" I hear the cry from the cheap seats, to which I reply "Fie! to thee, groundlings!"), the stuff is bloomin' delicious. And quite decently alcoholic, too. There's a a couple of glasses left from the first bottle; I think they'll disappear rather rapidly after dinner this evening before my ridiculously early bedtime courtesy of a week of early shifts - boo!

*now - about that song I mentioned...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Bern the Lens Goes Travelling

I've just had a short communiqué from Buckland Monachorum's photographer-in-chief, Bern the Lens, which I'll quote here:

"Bern has been on his travels, this time to rural Leicestershire and the Great Central Railway Winter Steam Gala in particular. On Sat 30 Jan in freezing temperatures but glorious winter sunshine, ex LMS "Jubilee" class no 5690 passes Kinsley Lane with a train from Loughborough Central to Leicester North. Railways as they should be. Bernard. "

Almost needless to say, Bern has got yet another smashing shot in his collection, which I hope you enjoy as much as I do:See more of Bern's work by clicking here or by using the permanent link in the column on the right.

We Had a Fishy on a Little Dishy

On Saturday evening last weekend, Shazzerooneypoos was brave enough to allow Mrs The Millbrooker and me into her abode to share a supper along with convalescing resident Dong and the Dong-sis, Jenny.

Here's Dong fondly fondling a bottle of his favourite substance (in this instance it's a Red Leb, kindly donated by Jenny). I know what you're thinking: "Red Leb doesn't come in a bottle, it's a rather pungent and effective resin". Assuming you are thinking that, you're obviously a stoner (or an ex-stoner) who is familiar with the huge varieties of smokables that used to be freely available in one's dim and distant youth; Black Moroccan, Rocky, Acapulco Gold.... ah, dreamy and (very) hazy days of yore...

But, as so oft before, I digress. The Red Leb in question is a fine bottle of Hochar from the oft war-torn Lebanon. Lebanese wine making is very old art indeed; the country lays claim to the location of the first New Testament miracle at the modern town of Qana, you know (and, no - the fact that I have a moderate knowledge of theology does not make me a believer). Indeed Lebanese wines were highly sought after throughout the known world in ancient times.

The bottle in the shot above was the second of two; both yummy and both gratefully received down the gullets of us thirsty Millbrookian types.

Dinner, as cooked and served by Shazzerooneypoos, was a very scrummy fish pie and freshly shelled peas (I'm told that Dong was given the task of pea shelling - a fine piece of physiotherapy, I'm sure).We made fairly short work of Little Lush Lewis's fine main course cooking skills and moved on to a scrummity pudding: peach and ginger fool. Naturally, Auntie Sharon couldn't stop herself giving the pud a smiley face.The small (but most select) gathering was augmented at a later hour by J.Edgar and his paramour Catherine. J.Edgar, you might recall, joined the navy back in the summer and is now doing specialist training inside deepest enemy territory (near Redruth) before receiving whatever posting the people with sparkly scrambled egg on their shoulders decide to give him.You'll be unsurprised to learn that the evening wore on and much bollocks was talked as we worked our way heroically through a decent bottle of Cru Cantemerle and then another red liquid of which I forget the provenance (this is, after all, following the Red Leb x 2).

I learned that Dong has been erroneously telling me for years that if I talk nicely to his sister I could get a tour of her workplace which has a view of the Oval (ideal for sneaking a free view of a test match). Jenny has generously said that we're welcome to visit her place of employment, but there is no view of the famed test venue. Bah. We'll doubtless take up the opportunity of a tour of the Imperial War Museum, though, thanks Jenny.
As with nearly all such occasions, the evening drew to a close and Mrs The Millbrooker took me home before I had to be removed in disgrace. Many thanks to Shazzerooneypoos for cooking and hosting, we had a grand old time.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Snow White Photos - Try To Contain Your Excitement

Lots of people never see what goes on behind the scenes of a play, and why should they? The great paying public pays to see the finished article, not the scruffy bits where half the cast are struggling for their lines and the other half have forgotten where to stand.

However, for your delight and delectation, I have uploaded fifty odd photos of last Sunday's bitingly cold rehearsal at Maker Camp of the forthcoming spectacular Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Here's an example of just how exciting it can be as the opening number begins to take shape:The link to all the photos is at the bottom of this post. If any cast members want a full sized copy of any of the photos, just let me know by email and I'll happily send them to you.

Meanwhile for everyone else - here's another publicity attempt:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The Energy Room, Maker

16th, 17th and 18th February

Tickets £5 adult £2.50 under 16
Available from Widdicombe's in Millbrook, The Millbrook Spar Shop, The Cross Keys in Cawsand (I think) and from The Random Arms at Maker. Other outlets do exist, but I've forgotten where they are.

Dong and Shazzerooneypoos - please let me know what night you'd like to go; Frankenkeith has already paid, and will help to form a party...

And so, for cast members and anyone curious (or bored) enough to want to see loads of shots of people rehearsing: click here. The photos are of Act 1 only, because I'm on stage during Act 2 and for obvious reasons can't do camera duties.

I will be adding to the photo archive of the show as we go along, so do keep checking.