Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What is Bonfire?

From the Lewes Bonfire Council's website.

What is the Lewes tradition all about? Several things are remembered, all of which were originally undeniably sectarian:
- the burning of 17 Protestant martyrs in Lewes High Street from 1555 to 1557, under the reign of Mary Tudor;
- the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when conspirators led by Robert Catesby planned to blow up King James I as he opened Parliament, the plot being foiled by the discovery of Guy Fawkes about to ignite the barrels of gunpowder in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament;
- the landing of William of Orange (William III, half of William and Mary) on 5th November 1688 to restore a Protestant monarchy.

Bonfire Tour, Day Thirteen: Lewes, East Sussex

On the whole, a quiet day. Got caught up on chores - laundry & grocery shopping.
Interesting guests in the Rocket fm studio for Rupert's show: local activist John May, Lewes Borough Bonfire Society chairman John Winter & Martin Crease who played some traditional bonfire tracks. Phone interview with Conrad Bladey who lives in Lithicum, Maryland, USA and is a bonfire fanatic. See his blog here.

Lewes Borough Bonfire Society (known as Borough)
Pioneer front:Zulu Warriors (pictured here)
Second pioneer front:Tudor Ladies and Gentlemen
Smuggler colours:Blue and white jumper, red cap
Area of town represented:"The top of town" - the western half of Lewes
Firesite location:Landport Bottom, near the race course
What makes us different from the others:One of the two oldest organised Bonfire Societies in Lewes, Borough are a traditional, friendly family Society.
Source: Lewes Bonfire Council website

Bonfire Tour, Day Twelve: Lewes, East Sussex

Painting: Vale Royal by Julian Bell
To St. John the Baptist Church in Southover for 10:30 service. Arrive early and enjoy listening to the band practicing the hymns. Excellent sermon by Ray Gaydon which could be called "A Day in the Life of David". (See 2 Samuel 12 v 1-10, Psalm 51).
Met hubby at Brewer's Arms in the High Street for lunch. He opts for the traditional English Sunday dinner - Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and all the trimmings. Cream of vegetable soup followed by rhubarb crumble with custard for me. Another delicious meal at a reasonable price.
I return to Pelham House to catch two more Lewes Live Literature Festival events. The first is a spin on Desert Island Discs called Desert Island Paintings. Local artist Julian Bell is interviewed by the festival's artistic director Mark Hewitt. Using slides of paintings (and one sculpture) Bell talks about his life and works.
Next up is Sue Roe, author of The Private Lives of the Impressionists. Using slides, Roe recounts the lives of the nine early impressionists (Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt) and how they lived, socialized and worked together in Paris.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Eleven: Lewes, East Sussex

Day Eleven, Saturday October 28
Coffee at the Riverside watching all of Lewes stroll by it seems. Brief visit to the "Coffee Morning" held as a fund raiser for the South Street Bonfire Society at the British Legion. Browse around the shops and meet hubby at The Brewer's Arms, 91 High Street for lunch - very tasty Broccoli Mornay.
To Pelham House for the Lewes Live Literature Festival for which I have tickets for four events. The first is poetry reading: The Wounded Deer, Fourteen Poems After Frida Kahlo by Pascale Petit; The Terrorist at My Table, poetry and ink line drawings by Imtiaz Dharker. Both readings are compelling in their own ways and are accompanied by powerpoint slide shows.

In the evening I return to Pelham House for "Mortal Ladies Possesed" a one woman show starring Linda Marlow. Through the voices of various women the life of the widow Holly, proprietress of a New Orleans flop house emerges. In a word, Marlow's performance was spellbinding. Edinburgh Festival review by Thom Dibdin:
"LINDA MARLOW proves her brilliance as an actress in this one-hander based on the women who people Tennessee Williams' short stories. Too brilliant for her own good at times, in what is a sparkling but not quite sustained romp.
Marlow's supreme ability is to create a complete character in the briefest of moments and with the least amount of effort. As the dying Widow Holly, she remembers the women who have stayed in her New Orleans boarding house and cuts effortlessly between them, taking the story off to high society functions and bordellos with equal ease.
It's highly watchable stuff. Until she turns into a bitchy millionairess, living out her 80s on the Mediterranean, who removes her tiny swimsuit in front of a hunky young artist and parades about naked. It must be stressed that Marlow is fully clothed throughout the show, but the image she conjures up of this leathery old crone is so vivid that you can not help but see her. And shudder.
The real problem of the production, however, is that it simply does not hang together. As a patchwork of characters it is sublime, but without a sustaining plot it is no more than that: a patchwork. "

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Veggie Sausages

One of my favourite foods available in the UK but hot in Canada are fabulous Veggie Sausages. There are so many varieties and brands that it's impossible to try them all in this short visit - but I'll do my best. See my first post on the subject here.
Next up are Cauldron's Lincolnshire Veggie Sausages that have very traditional seasoning and quite a good texture. They get a rating of 8 out of 10.
My long standing favourite has been Linda McCartney's sausages , which come frozen and have the best texture by far. Rated 9 out of 10. Apparently the vegetarion foods company that bears her name has been recently bought by an American firm - Hain Celestial Group from Heinz. Read more here.

Bonfire Tour, Day Ten: Lewes, East Sussex

To Rik's Discs to buy tickets for events hosted by the Lewes Live Literature Festival at Pelham House this weekend.
Waiting for the train to Eastbourne I hear announcements preparing folk for the big event - Bonfire night, Saturday November 4th. Apparently there will be a queuing system in place and the ticket booth, toilets and parking will close early. Extended waits are expected. Similar announcement is playing at the station when I arrive in Eastbourne.
To Curves for a workout then to the Arndale Centre to look around. Discover bonmarché, a shop geared towards women over 45, where I buy two long-sleeved tops for £10 and a pair of dress pants for £12.
I grab a Subway sandwich, coffee and cookie and eat lunch on the platform before boarding the return train to Lewes.
From the RockFM fm studio to Anne of Cleves House for a talk called "Who was Anne of Cleves?" given by local historian Helen Poole. The audience is chiefly composed of "Friends of Anne of Cleves House" who have just had their Annual General Meeting. The talk is engaging and the hour passes quickly. It has been a long time since I've heard a slide carousel in operation.
"Anne of Cleves (klēvz) , 1515 - 57, fourth queen consort of Henry VIII of England. The sister of William, duke of Cleves, one of the most powerful of the German Protestant princes, she was considered a desirable match for Henry by those English councilors, most notably Thomas Cromwell, who wished to ally England with the Schmalkaldic League. The marriage was agreed upon in 1539, and although Henry tried to break the contract after seeing his bride, they were married in Jan, 1540. Henry found Anne dull and unattractive, and the marriage was never consummated. This and the fact that Anne had previously contracted to marry the duke of Lorraine's son were used as grounds for divorce[annulment] in July, 1540. Anne gave her consent and, by agreement, lived the rest of her life in England. " Source: answers.com
There is no evidence that Anne ever set foot in Sussex and so never saw this house on Southover High Street that bears her name. It was called the Porched House until 1910 and was one of many properties (the list includes nine Sussex manors) that afforded her £4000 annual income.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Days Six, Seven, Eight & Nine: Lewes, East Sussex

Day Nine: Thursday, October 26
Sun shining for the first morning we've been here so decided to visit Lewes Castle - it was closed due to the appearance of a swarm of bees. We toured the museum and town model slide show for free.
"From the high towers of Lewes Castle visitors can see both the town and the distant views of downs, river and forest. The best way to appreciate this view is to visit Barbican House Museum first and watch 'The Story of Lewes Town', a sound and light show based on a scale model of the town.
The castle was begun soon after 1066 by William de Warenne as his stronghold in Sussex but not completed until 300 years later with the building of the magnificent Barbican. A later owner of the castle was Thomas Read Kemp, local MP and the architect of Brighton's Kemptown. Barbican House Museum now houses the Sussex Archaeological Society's archaeology collections, a changing temporary exhibition gallery and a specialist bookshop providing books on all aspects of history and archaeology."
Met up with June for lunch at the Dorset Arms where we chatted about Lewes shops, the significance of Bonfire to the locals and David Arscott's upcoming book about the Sussex Dialect.

Day Eight: Wednesday, October 25
Went to Anne of Cleves House in Southover Street, Lewes as we wanted to view their temporary photograph exhibit "Lewes Shops". "Anne of Cleves House is a 16th century timber-framed Wealden hall-house that formed part of Anne's divorce settlement from Henry VIII in 1541. The house contains wide-ranging collections of Sussex interest, including Sussex pottery, and the bedroom and kitchen are furnished to reflect an earlier period." The power was out in the district so we got free admission.
Grocery shopping at Waitrose where we bought ready made sandwiches for a quick lunch.
Fabulous dinner at sister Helen's where both the food and company were delightful.

Day Seven: Tuesday, October 24
To Lewes station to catch the 8:47 to Victoria Station, London. Took the underground-Victoria Line to Green Park then transferred to the Picadilly Line to Russell Square. Short walk to the British Museum where I met Helen, Andrew and Rob. Fascinating temporary exhibit called Power and Taboo: Sacred Objects from the Pacific. Next to the Silver Vaults on Chancery Lane. Lunch at a Weatherspoons pub.
Next to Sir John Soane's Museum. Short walk to Dr. Johnson's house where we looked up the word sausage in his dictionary - and no, it wasn't there! Where's Baldric when you need him?
Dinner with Will at the Fat Cat Cafe in Mile End where he works. Fun playing Black Jack on the train back to Lewes.

Day Six:Monday,October 23:Train to Eastbourne to work out at the closest Curves gym to Lewes.The club is a well laid out, comfortable and friendly facility and it was just a few minutes walk from the train station. Chatted to owner Peter Furminger who lived at one time in Don Mills, Ontario. He and his wife Lina are in the process of opening a Curves outlet in Lewes but the planning permission is slow going in this part of the world.
Quick lunch and browse around charity shops - things are much cheaper in Eastbourne than in Lewes.
Back to Lewes and the Rocket fm studio for Rupert's 5 to 7 pm program. Dinner in the Beijing Restaurant.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Five: Lewes, East Sussex

Sunday Oct 22: To church with my sister Helen at Scaynes Hill. Excellent sermon on the topic of religion and war. St Augustine's boasts a superb tapestry seen here.
Lunch of Carrot & Orange soup at The Old Needlemaker's.
"The former needle factory, which features woodblock floors, stable doors, large beams and a well that provided water to the steam driven machines, is home to 20 arts and crafts shops selling such things as toys, fragrances, jewellery and candles. A café is also available." Enjoyed a snoop around The Box Room downstairs where I chatted with a lady who has visited Etobicoke.
Next to the Thebes Gallery for the final day of: Life Works- The Star Group exhibit which was a new selection of varied life works, drawings, paintings and prints.

Saturday evening: After tea with the McBean's, watched the Nevill Juvenille Bonfire on the Nevill Estate which is where my grandparents lived. Quite amazing to see the torchlight procession through the streets and no one took much notice of the rain. This event is geared towards children and their costumes were varied and interesting. Enjoyed the music of various marching bands too. Next on to friends' housewarming party.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Four:Lewes, East Sussex

Rupert's first radio show went very well yesterday- no major glitches. Rocket FM webmasters Howard Makin & Molly Mockford and former BBC correspondent Alex Kirby were live in the studio. Eric Eggleston was interviewed by phone from Ottawa and Ian Whitelaw from Coombe, British Columbia. Had a "take away" fish and chips from The Friar in Fisher Street (no I kid you not).
After quick coffee at the Riverside Ru, brother-in-law Julian and I took the bus to the neighbouring village of Offham. I am researching the Shiffner family, formerly of Coombe Place and so after picking up the key at the vicarage we walked out to the Church of St Peter, Hamsey to see the memorials there. We were not disappointed and took many photos and notes.
Sat on a bench outside the church for a picnic lunch and took the bus back to Lewes.

"The religious census of Sussex on 30th March 1851 states there were two well-attended services at Hamsey, with a congregation of 121 in the morning (including 34 'Sunday scholars') and 58 in the afternoon. Revd George C. Shiffner, the then Rector, wrote in the census: 'The present church is most inconveniently placed, being so remote from the habitations of the people as to be inaccessible to the old and infirm, and to render the attendance of the rest as variable as the weather. ... A new church is much needed.'" View source.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bonfire Tour, Day Three:Lewes, East Sussex

Dinner at Pizza Express in Lewes High Street last night with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Service was quirky but food of an acceptable standard - prices horrifying.
Shared a starter: Bruschetta con Funghi - Portobello and closed cup mushrooms baked with cream, béchamel sauce, red onions, parsley and a dash of balsamic vinegar, then piled onto freshly baked dough sticks - £3.95= $ 8.30.
Rocket FM on the air as of 9 this morning. Had breakfast listening to Kevin Cramer and Andrew Carroll. My husband starts his two week stint doing the drive time show called "Get Smart!" from 5 to 7 pm locally which is sponsored by the East Sussex Library where I'm currently writing this. You don't have to be in Lewes to listen in - follow the instructions on the main web page.

Bonfire Tour, Day Two: Lewes, East Sussex

Staying in South Street, across from the Snowdrop Inn which takes its name from a tragedy - the worst avalanche on record in the UK. Excerpt from Curious Sussex by Mary Delorme, (ISBN0709029705, Robert Hale Ltd - 1987) pp 39 -40:
On Christmas week in 1836 brought a heavier snowfall than even the oldest inhabitants could remember. All through he weekend it fell, and a gale swept it into great drifts, some as deep as twenty feet. Lewes was cut off, except by the river.
The owner of the yard warned those of his labourers who lived in Boulder Row to go at once to rescue their belongings, but they refused. By the next morning the overhanging snow had developed great fissures, and the cottagers were again warned and offered accommodation elsewhere, but still they refused.
Onlookers were becoming desperate; by a quarter past ten, two young men rushed into a couple of cottages and tried to drag out the women, still without success; hardly were the men clear again before the great wall of snow slid down, crushing and burying seven houses.
United in horror, everyone struggled; with spades and hands, labourers and gentlemen together – it was a mighty effort. There were six survivors, including Mary Taylor’s baby, shielded by her body. The baby was only bruised; Mary, wife of John Taylor, left ten other children motherless. Eight people died, that Christmas Eve, from an old man of eighty-five to a little girl of eleven. And the Snowdrop Inn stands, a reminder and landmark extraordinary.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Bonfire Tour: Day One - Lewes, East Sussex

Stress-free train ride from Gatwick to Lewes after hellish Air Transat flight. Hubby had major claustrophobia attack as we sat in the plane for nearly and hour before take off. This cheapo charter airline could go into the sardine business.
Short nap and then out to explore the town. I've noticed many changes in shops & restaurants since I was last here in August of 2004. Stop at an ATM made me nostalgic for the years when we had to buy traveller's cheques prior to departure.
Snooping around some of my favourite book and charity shops in Lewes, and there are a great many of them. Stocked up on provisions at the new Waitrose supermarket that has replaced Morrison's/Safeway.
I'm on a quest for the best veggie sausages in captivity. Started by sampling Quorn's Sizzling Bangers which sold for £1.79 for 250 g. Very juicy and well seasoned - rating 8 out of 10.
Read more about what's happening in Lewes here.
Party at brother-in-law's last night for the Rocket Radio folk.

Of Mice and Men

At opening night, October 16, for this CanStage production of John Steinbeck's classic tragic tale of friendship and loyalty - difficult to believe that it was opening night as production was so smooth. There was not a weak performance from the cast, for most of whom this is their CanStage debut. Particular standouts were Ashley Wright (pictured here) as Lennie and Stan Lesk as Candy and his dog. Of the fifteen seasons I've been a subscriber, this play is one of the top five I've seen at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

Read more here.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Luz a Las Naciones

Attended a fundraising banquet at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 3819 Bloor Street West, Etobicoke for Luz a Las Naciones (Light to the Nations)Ministries in the Dominican Republic. A team of energetic volunteers had beautifully decorated the hall and set the tables for a delicious meal that started with a salad with strawberries and poppyseed dressing. As the evening continued there were door prizes, musical presentations, a raffle, crafts for sale, speeches and prayers.
Most impressive was the powerpoint presentation given by founder & director Canadian missionary Richard Brochu.
"Familiar with the Dominican from operating a travel agency business, Richard was well aware of the great needs of the poor in this country. He knew that although the Dominican is known as an exotic tourist destination with many beautiful resorts, that life for the poor in the barrios is full of extreme poverty and despair, sickness and oppression. So in faith, he sold his business and arrived in Puerto Plata, on the northern coast of the island, in April 1994.
With no initial support and only $300 in his pocket, he rented a small room in a boarding house in one of the barrios. His heart was for evangelism, and he began a daily walk through his new neighbourhood, telling children and their families about the love of the Lord. Four years later, the Lord impressed upon him that it was time to move from his rat-infested accommodations, and the present mission house was found available for rent. Gazing out of the bedroom window of his new home upon yet another sprawling barrio, Richard immediately felt compassion for the people living there and had a great desire to tell them about Jesus. He felt clear direction from the Lord, 'This is to be your new Jerusalem.'"
Read more here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Guelph: life on campus

There is definitely something special about University Campuses. There is a heightened sense of consciousness - socially, environmentally & politically.
On the University of Guelph campus, there are far more vegans and vegetarians per capita than in the general Canadian populous. So Guelph, being a university town of about 125,000 people has at least three veggie restaurants.
Dinner at The Cornerstone (1 Wyndham St. N, Guelph - 519-827-0145) yesterday where we had an amazing veggie club sandwich. I must try to replicate this at home.
Earlier, I sat in on Dr George Grinnell's lecture (English 3300: Restoration to Romanticism)on Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters (1716-1718).
After dinner we attended a Guelph Campus for Christ meeting where Jamie Strickland's talk focused on evangelism. The C4C group is gearing up for their debate: Does God Exist?
Time: Wednesday Oct 18, 7:30-9:30 Tickets: $2 at the door Location: War Memorial Hall
Description :Are you interested in hearing the arguments both for and against the existence of God? Joe Boot (theist), the Canadian director of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, will be having an informal debate with Dr. Chris diCarlo (atheist), professor at University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Both Mr. Boot and Dr. diCarlo will share their perspectives on this controversial question as well take questions from the audience.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Lecture - Colombia: Making Sense of a Protracted Armed Conflict

To the beautifully landscaped Oakville Library for the Oakville University Lecture Series, put on by the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies. The speaker was Ana Maria Bejarano, (Ph.D. Columbia University, Assistant Professor University of Toronto) Who spoke on the topic "Colombia: Making Sense of a Protracted Armed Conflict" She was previously professor of Political Science at the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, where she also served as Director of its Center for Social and Legal Research (CIJUS). She co-edited the book Elecciones y Democracia en Colombia, 1997-98 (Bogota, 1998).
Professor Bejarano is an excellent speaker and extremely knowledgeable about the policial sitiation in her home country. She opened by setting the geographical and historical contexts. One wonders how the conflict will ever be resolved.
Lunch at Caffe dos Libros - tasty crêpe filled with brie and apple - and a browse in adjoining Bookers.
Thanks to B-J for a great afternoon.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Art Gallery of Ontario

To the AGO via subway on Saturday afternoon. Like the ROM, the gallery is under construction and has limited exhibits but still charges full admission (a bit of a rip off I think).
First saw the :

"Andy Warhol - Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962–1964
July 8 to October 22, 2006
Guest-curated exclusively for the AGO by film director David Cronenberg, Andy Warhol / Supernova: Stars, Deaths and Disasters, 1962-1964 focuses on one of the most influential periods in the artist's life. Combining both paintings and films, the exhibition features not only well-known serial images of Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor, but also disturbing disaster imagery that includes car crashes, criminals and electric chairs. The AGO is the only venue that combines Warhol's rarely seen underground films with his painted works."
Certainly gave you a lot to contemplate about how art is defined.
The cafe prices were too high for me ($6 soup), so we left the AGO to go across the street to the food court at The Grange.
Back to AGO to view more exhibits including "In Your Face". I would be a wonderful idea for a school project:

"Opening July 1 (last date for submissions Dec 1), In Your Face is an exhibition of portraits collected from the general public to celebrate the individuality and diversity of Canada. Submissions are now being accepted for the exhibition and the Gallery will be entering the completed project for consideration by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection of portraits ever assembled.
One of the AGO's initiatives as part of Toronto's Live with Culture celebration this year, In Your Face will allow everyone to become a creative part of the Gallery's future. In addition to external submissions, visitors can experiment with portrait-making in the Gallery and take part in interactive artists' demonstrations. "
Go here for details.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Toronto Zoo

There were very few visitors to the zoo, other than school groups, yesterday. I'm sure that was partly due to the rainy weather. We made the best of our time there & did a lot of walking, enjoyed the pavillions and stopped for a picnic lunch on a sheltered bench.
We were impressed with the new(ish) African Savannah exhibit that was under construction the last time we were there. We also visited some long time favourites - matamata turtles, thorny devils, gorllias, and komodo dragons.