Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sunrise Celebration Festival - 2-5 June 2011

- By Becky Condron

I am stupidly excited!

We're going to the Sunrise Celebration Festival, held not far from Weston on a farm close to Bruton in our very own Somerset countryside. Next week - 2nd to 5th June!

I have no worries that my 4 year old daughter and I will be travelling to and arriving at this very chilled out, family friendly festival on our own. It promises to be the sort of place where it's so easy to meet other, like-minded families with plenty of new friends for us to play with.

Part of the vision of Sunrise Celebration is to strengthen communities and I'm a great believer in that, it's exactly what Weston-super-Mum is achieving after all.

But which arena to try first? Besides the music there is just so much to do. The Forest Garden sounds interesting - a school area, plenty of opportunity for fun learning and the Green Man story teller. Or there's the Village Green with its playground, twinkling labyrinth and scented garden. There's even a Conscious Birthing Group, though maybe I should give that a miss, as even I can get broody.

The Sunrise Kids' area has workshops and a child-friendly cabaret. So much colour, life and spectacle to be experienced.

As for Performance Art, we're promised "wandering minstrels, sword-drawing cavaliers, stilt walkers, fire dancers and poets." Wow. "Expect the unexpected," is just about the best warning I have ever heard, given the context.

There is also a fancy dress theme. Ready? .... Steampunk Time Travelling. Erm

I have a favour to ask and I know that I could live to regret this but I invite all of you to set me a challenge. Head over to the Sunrise Celebration website (link below) and think of something that you'd like us to do at the Festival. Something ridiculous, wacky, daring or exciting. Please bear in mind that I have a 4 year old with me so keep it safe, inexpensive and practical and leave your challenge below. The winner will be pulled out of a hat and announced by Brad Burton from 4Networking on Tuesday 31st May at Weston-super-Mum's Go Wild in the Woods at the Water Tower. OMG, OMG, OMG!!

I will take loads of photos to evidence us rising to the challenge and, on our return, I'll let you all know how we got on. How could I not?

I'd also like to ask for your advice. I have been to plenty of festivals and I'm savvy but I've never been with a young child before. Do you have any tips to make this even more enjoyable than it promises to be anyway? Food to take? Accessories we might need? How to pace ourselves? What to do if she gets tired? Thank you.

And if anyone else is going, please send me a FB message (Becky Condron) or look me up on WsMum and we can hook up, if you like. I have space for 3 max in the back of my car if anyone wants to lift-share.

Here's Sunrise Celebration's website:

They also have a Facebook page, just type "Sunrise Celebration" into the search box

Look forward to reading your tips and challenges. I think ;-)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Rip Fold Scrunch

A big cheer! We've been to the Tobacco Factory Theatre again today and you know how much we love that place. Not just for its community feel, the market, the cafe and the chance to peep in at the classes going on there but, mainly, because it brings us innovative and fresh theatre productions at an affordable price.

This morning our treat was Rip Fold Scrunch, a three-person performance that uses paper to inspire children at play. Half Moon Young People's Theatre taught us a thing or two. Like, just what is it possible to do with a sheet (or several dozen) of paper?

Well, to start you can rip it, fold it, scrunch it and the show, aimed at 2 to 5 year olds, used a movement based mantra to illustrate this - even a toddler with limited vocabulary would have grasped the meaning of those three words - Rip. Fold. Scrunch.

Once you have your raw material, you can make rain or you can dance, maybe fish for creatures, throw and catch it, swim in and through it or fight with it. Butterflies, kites, umbrellas, masks, spirals - all of these things are possible with a bit of paper. Set to the cello, played live on stage, we watched our hosts fashion all sorts of wonderful shapes. The dance was fun and the dancer's ankles were adorned with bells, making her tinkle everywhere she moved.

Little voices laughed as the cast teased each other, using facial expression and emotion that was so relevant to its audience.

We went with friends and our three reception year girls sat on the front row, giggling, whispering and nudging each other.

"Are you thinking about the end?" Emelia asked her pals. Yes, they were thinking of exactly that because they understood that, then, they too would get to go on the stage and play with the paper, letting loose their own imaginations.

My highlight was the Wizard of Oz moment when the white paper used throughout became paper of colour. Every colour. And then ....

The performance was over but, for the kids, the fun was about to reach its heights. It was so interesting to see the girls express their own individuality, those personalities unique to each of them bursting through. Emelia, the thinker, could be found sitting on the floor of the stage, ripping a small piece of paper incredibly slowly and noting the result as it made a tiny noise, the jagged edges being guided this way and that by her steady little hands. Celeste, the artist, found the biggest piece of white paper she could and arranged small, coloured squares upon it. Ada, the communicator, couldn't wait to talk the performers, she played the cello, she asked questions of the cast and interacted with the awe-inspiring confidence.

After the show, we sat down for a cuppa or an ice-cream and I had to ask my own question, though I knew the answer.

"What was your favourite bit?"

"When we got to play with the paper," it came in unison. Paper. These children use it everyday but now they might just think a little more whenever they put a pencil to it.

Upcoming Tobacco Factory Theatre shows can be found on their website.

For more information about Half Moon Young People's Theatre, see

Written by Becky Condron

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Murders and Ghosts of Olde Weston with Weston Walks

We met under the granite arch on Weston's sea front on an evening well suited to tales of mysterious deaths and long-forgotten murders. The wind was high and so was the tide as it lashed over the sea wall, the spray from it wetting our faces just enough to taste our seaside town, the grey sky accentuating its many colours of brown and grey.

Those of us on tonight's tour of Weston's murky past had our own local ghost stories to tell - mine of a woman who used to visit me in South Road while I tried to sleep, a woman who nobody had told me about, although they all knew. Mike, our guide, invited conversation as we pushed along the front to Knightstone Island.

And so the stories begin. Tales of dead brides in baths, Jack the Ripper suspects, sororicide, butchered butchers, love turned sour, policemen who perished. Accounts of bigamists, cads, thugs, the mentality unstable, the infuriating and the innocents. The perpetrators hung, transported, locked up, acquitted and disappeared.

Mike is a natural story teller, who elicits sympathy for some of his subjects and mistrust of others. He puts the points across and asks tricky questions, "Do you think she killed him?" He describes vividly the characters and the setting (many of the stories are, understandably, from the Victorian era, Weston being a town of little over 100 people at the turn of the Nineteenth Century).

The Weston Walks' Murders and Ghosts tour takes the party up to higher ground, so be prepared to hill-walk a little. I know this town very well but walking around the Shubbery and the areas above Grove Park with a knowledgeable and entertaining guide made me see my home in a different light. I communicated with the topography of Weston and with people I shall never know.

Future visits to some of these crime scenes will get me thinking of Weston's long departed over and again. And I will always wonder whether that stolen cheese was really worth it? But that's a story that Mike should tell you ...

Murders and Ghosts of Olde Weston takes place at 7:30pm every Tuesday and Thursday evening and cost £4 for adults and £3 for children. Booking is essential. Weston Walks also does daily Seaside Strolls, where history and entertainment combine. For more details, see

Written by Becky Condron

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Ping and Pong - Grow

My Book review of Ping and Pong, Grow by Amy Trevaskus, Illustrated by Alison Heath

by Aidan Bishop, aged 11

Ping and Pong are Lucy's imaginary friends who live in a clock ... a Grandfather clock.

What Happened:
Ping and Pong go on a trip with lucy and her grandfather to the allotments (where people can grow food like Mr Bloom's Nursery) and find out how to grow food and Vegetables.
Then Ping and Pong go on a trip with the bees who have fun.
My little brother who is 3 years old pointed to the bees and said "Buzzzzz." So happy he enjoyed that part.

After that they helped Lucy to plant some seeds, Then Ping and Pong went home to bed in there clock house after a long day of fun.

The pictures in the book were colourful and child friendly and it followed the story.

Aidan's opinion:
I think this book is a very good book for young children and they will want it to be read again and again, I also enjoyed reading it with my Brothers and sister on a rainy Saturday morning.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Professor Paradox and the Pirates of Green Bogie

We got to Princes Hall as the doors opened, to take full advantage of the “Coffee and Crayons” before the show proper. She found herself one of the many pots of crayons and a pirate colouring in sheet and I grabbed a cup of tea, while other children, some dressed as pirates or fairies, piled into the venue with parents and grandparents in tow.

Princes Hall is part of Clevedon Community Centre, which adjoins Sunhill House. It’s a large area that is well-placed to hold theatre goers: it seats 300 people. It's a comfortable place for parents because the children can run around without danger or frowns from others - there's space enough for everyone.

I counted about 30 kids here today, many of whom sat on the padded mats to watch the star of the show, Professor Paradox, a clown/magician/Master of Silliness, who has a way of warming children (and adults) to him.

The first glimpse we got of the Professor was his bottom, always a good start when you’ve got a crowd of excited little people, who just love anything that is a tinsy bit naughty. He sneezed into a spotty hanky, he talked about poo and smelly socks and he was mildly slapstick, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of pantomime. He has an air of Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonker about him, not just the unkempt hair that he is “very proud of,” but also that nonchalant attitude of “I told you so but you didn’t listen, did you? So be it.”

The Pirates of Green Bogie were coming to steal our sweets and we had to make a magic smell to keep the stinky, naughty crew at bay. The spells went wrong because Professor Paradox kept losing things even though the audience squealed and shouted that “There! There’s your hat! On your head!” His magic wasn’t working, mostly because we had failed to shout loudly enough. We remedied that.

Helpers were sought to come onto stage. The young assistants came willingly, the older ones had to be hand-picked, though they got into the spirit of the play immediately and one Dad was a great sport, dressed by our host as a big fairy.

This was a fun and easy-going event, organised by Event Architects of Clevedon, who hope to raise the profile of Princes Hall. For us, it worked: I’ll be checking out future events held there, of that I have no doubt.

Written by Becky Condron