Fully loaded with a family bag of Minstrels and a frothy Latte, it was off to the cinema for the latest release from Marvel – The Black Panther.
Apart from the dire Fantastic Four films, Marvel’s characters always provide an entertaining diversion, although the eponymous hero in this case seems to have accrued more super powers than the character I was familiar with as a kid.
The film posters are pretty impressive too.
It was quite early on in the month when a bit of culture was deemed to be coming on…so it was off to see Quartet. This from the Birmingham Rep:
A very entertaining production, seen from the cheap seats!
Quartet is the charming tale of four ageing opera singers. Cecily, Reggie and Wilfred reside in a magnificent retirement home. The rumour circling the halls is that the home is soon to play host to a new resident. Word is – it’s a star! Jean arrives and old rivalries resurface, secrets are revealed and chaos unfolds, but in true theatrical tradition – the show must go on!
Paul Nicholas, Wendi Peters, Sue Holderness and Jeff Rawle star in a revival of the bitter-sweet comedy Quartet from the Oscar-winning writer Sir Ronald Harwood. A celebration of the twilight years and the hilarity of growing old disgracefully!
Nature Notes Warning:
The annual long weekend to Devon gave us good weather for ducks…and grebes!
Over the course of the long weekend, we notched up grebes galore – Great Crested, Little, Black-necked, Red-necked and Slavonian.
First port of call was to clock the Cirl Buntings over at Labrador Bay, and one was duly clocked as soon as we parked up, popping along the hedge of the car park. Before we had hardly stepped out of the car, a Skylark ascended and a Sparrowhawk suddenly zipped by. The hawk ominously glided down a scrubby trail leading to a favourite field of the Cirls. Fortunately there was plenty of bunting laid out to celebrate our arrival.
The Cirls proved to be very confiding if a little skittish, and flitted back and forth to snaffle seeds from the field edge. A Peregrine put in a soaring appearance, scything through the sky in typical imperious fashion but the buntings were clearly beneath its notice.
Then it was onto Broadsands to nab the Great Northern Diver – a Rock Pipit, Gannet and Scoter having to be content with second billing. The rain came in hard so rather than huddle away from the elements on Berry Head, we headed to Beesands where in a ley lay our Red-necked Grebe – and a new one: a Ring-necked Duck.
Slapton is a little Devon village, which gives its name to the nearby beach of Slapton Sands. Presiding over this coastal bar is a Sherman Tank, which was recovered from the ill-fated Exercise Tiger that took place in 1944.
Exercise Tiger was the code name for one of a series of large-scale rehearsals for the D-Day invasion of Normandy. 749 American soldiers and sailors died during this rehearsal when German E-Boats snuck in and torpedoed three ships. More men died during Exercise Tiger than died in the actual landings on Utah Beach.
This from the information board by the tank:
A strange gull had appeared in the waters around Langstone Cliff, a short sandwich-snatch away from our hotel – the spookily named Langstone Cliff Hotel.
As gullish as a gull can be, it didn’t look particularly exotic to us. However, a handy gull expert nearby insisted it was a possible partial albino Thayer’s and Kumlien’s gull hybrid! (what do you mean, hold you back?)
Here it is:
We then headed over to Exminster Marshes where an obliging Black-necked Grebe pootled about in the canal. Red-breasted Mergansers were also present, as was an unusual Cormorant that looked as if he had just popped in from a face-painting session at the Turf pub.
Bowling Green Marsh near Topsham was where the rain began to pick up again so it called for some serious hide huddling. Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and the ubiquitous Mallard scuttled around the water; a pair of Snipe snipped in for a quick paddle, and Greenshanks and Redshanks stretched out their legs in the shallows. A Kingfisher perched awhile from a post.
A Slavonian Grebe – the final grebe of the weekend – was viewed from Cockwood, bouncing along in the turbulent waters of the sea. Brent Geese were busy cropping the fairway of the adjacent golf course where a couple of dead lapwings were also in evidence – casualties, no doubt, of the recent ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorms or, as they call it in Russia: Thursday.
Meanwhile at Film Club Night, the main feature was Double Indemnity.
Scoring 96% on the TOMATOMETER, here’s Linda Rasmussen’s take on Rotten Tomatoes:
Directed by Billy Wilder and adapted from a James M. Cain novel, Double Indemnity represents the high-water mark of 1940s film noir urban crime dramas in which a greedy, weak man is seduced and trapped by a cold, evil woman. Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces insurance agent Walter (Fred MacMurray) into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. The murder goes as planned, but after the couple’s passion cools, each becomes suspicious of the other’s motives. Double Indemnity ranks with the classics of mainstream Hollywood movie-making.
The short second film, also based on a James M. Cain story, was The Girl In the Storm, made in 1990 and capturing the essence of American film noir from the period, using 16mm film stock. The film explores a situation where two strangers are thrown together in a dangerous environment. In fairness, a dangerous environment to the girl could be have been anything from a infant’s tea party at Fluffy Camp to a spelling competition with gerbils judging by the fragility of the woman – she gets knocked out when her car stalls and is killed by a mere waft of a knock on her head.
Anyway, a quick search on YouTube and here it is in all its 15 minute glory:
Having been postponed due to the Beast from the East, the annual spring jaunt to the Forest of Dean only just got underway before the month was out.
There was a brief stop at Lydney to check out a couple of waterlogged fields for a reported Glossy Ibis but there was no sign of the shiny bird although a bevy of Red-legged Partridges were nicely lined up on a concrete wall for formal inspection.
Then onto Parkend where we missed out on the Hawfinches but clocked a couple of spiraling Goshawks. New Fancy View provided more distant Goshawks with a supporting cast of several Buzzards and an indolent Sparrowhawk circling above.
The real stars though, were the couple of Adders out for a bask in the sunshine. There was one curled up just off the path, and another braver soul sunning itself beneath the viewing platform where a couple of Common Lizards had also put out their beachtowels.
After lunch at Beechenhurst, it was onto Cannop Ponds for Mandarin amongst a reasonable selection of Ducks, Coots and Little Grebes; the always-reliable Treecreeper moused its way up the trees nearby.
Finally, nestled in at Crabtree, a Great Grey Shrike put the cap on a fine day.
The Coming Out Exhibition at the Gas Hall was well worth dipping into.
This major exhibition featured over 80 modern and contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists who explore themes of gender, sexuality and identity in art.
The exhibition curated art by many well known artists, including works by Andy Warhol, Grayson Perry, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Steve McQueen, Derek Jarman, and Richard Hamilton.
Photos from the Art Gallery’s website: