Bank holiday Highclere

What to do on a bank holiday Monday at the end of May? Highclere Castle, of course. After a quick driving lesson for Livi (flawless hill start btw), it was off to Highclere sneaking in the back way. Long gone are the pre-Downton weekly trips on a Sunday afternoon, care of a nominal annual membership fee. However, the castle was empty enough actually go inside for a change, the tea shop was as welcoming as ever, and the grass still soft enough for headstands. All rounded off with a trip up Beacon Hill.




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Madrigals for a Summer’s Evening

Join Southern Voices for our next concert of madrigals in New Hall at Winchester College on Saturday 16 July.

MadrigaleThis concert will comprise some of the best madrigals from Italy and England, including L’Amfiparnaso: – one of the first musical comedies, a unique combination of commedia dell’arte and fine music composed by Orazio Vecchio. This precursor of Italian opera was written in 1594 as a Christmas entertainment for the Duke of Modena.

The concert will be conducted as usual by our musical director, Katherine Dienes-Williams. Tickets are £16 (full), £14 (concessions) and £5 for age 17 and under. Tickets are available from the Cathedral Box Office or by calling (01962 857275).

Early indications from rehearsals are that the music is entirely wonderful, although there are rather a lot of Italian words to fit into the notes given… It is going to be another excellent night of music-making in a superb venue that is new to Southern Voices.

The musical programme will include the following:

  • de Wert – Donna se ben le chiom’ho
  • de Wert – Vaghi Bschetti
  • de Wert – Misera che faro
  • de Wert – In qual parte si ratto
  • Gabrieli – Del gran Tuonate
  • Montiverdi – Ecco mororar l’onde
  • Gesualdo – Moro, lasso, al mio duolo
  • Gibbons – I tremble not at noise of war
  • Vecchi – L’Amfiparnaso
  • Morley – April is in my mistress’ face
  • Morley – Now is the month of Maying
  • Gibbons – The silver swan
  • Wilbye – Sweet honey sucking bees
  • Wilbye – Draw on sweet night




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Hovercraft at Lee on the Solent

Having passed the Hovercraft Museum at Lee on the Solent a number of times when it was firmly shut, the news that it was opening on Saturday mornings was met with glee from the old man and me and less enthusiasm from the old dear. So when Bryony visited in February, it was a good opportunity for some father/son – grandmother/granddaughter bonding time – but separately.

BTW, museum well worth a visit if you are into that sort of thing – you would struggle to find anything similar elsewhere.


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Monet and Canary Wharf

Strange bedfellows, but an interesting combination on the day. We visited the Royal Academy ‘Painting the Modern Garden – Monet to Matisse’ back in February.

The paintings at the RA were wonderful. Particularly worthwhile for me were the ‘Gardens of Silence’ collection and the final hall with an enormous triptych that had been gathered together for the exhibition. Definitely worthwhile booking the first slot, getting there early and then starting at the end first.

We then shot to Canary Wharf via the DLR (go from Bank for a brilliant view of the City). Although I go there often Rebecca has never been and it is good to revisit through the eyes of a first time visitor. The new Cross Rail terminal is particularly impressive.

New phone with a photo scanning button…

PS We visited Monet’s garden in 2013 – as reported earlier.


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V&A Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

A late mention of the recent excellent exhibition at the V&A where there were shoes a plenty, from the lost Cinderella Swarovski crystal shoe, through the Red Shoes, Egyptian sandals, tudor boots, the latest 3D printed shoes and all places in between. I am sure there was a reason as to how they were laid out, but it passed me by. A quick tour round the fabulous Cast Rooms before lunch at the evergreen Bluebird. Unusually traffic disappeared from Regent Street from early evening onwards for the London Lumiere – so one obviously had to walk down the middle of the road to take advantage… Excellent lights in Leicester Square.

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Bubbles and Song – A Night at the Opera

Join us for a night of Bubbles and Song in Winchester on 5 March!

Southern Voices brings you a night at the opera full of memorable melodies which will leave you humming if not bringing your operatic voices fully out into the open!

Singing in Russian, French, German, Latin and Italian, familiar choruses will delight you, ranging from Wagner’s ‘Bridal Chorus’ from Lohengrin to March of the Toreadors from Bizet’s Carmen, Mascagni’s Easter Hymn to Verdi’s Chorus of the Hebrew slaves from Nabucco.

Ladies’ voices are heard in the Witches’ Chorus of Macbeth by Verdi, whilst the men present the Soldiers’ Chorus from Il Trovatore. There are, of course, many other operatic delights to entertain you as you sip a glass or two of bubbly and enjoy a table of fine nibbles.

Husband and wife team Paul and Ruth Provost are your accompanist and solo soprano respectively – Ruth will perform four solo arias.

A choice selection of choruses and arias from the best of grand opera including:


with Ruth Provost (soprano)

director – Katherine Dienes-Williams
piano – Paul Provost

Tickets are available online, by phone or in person from the Cathedral Box Office (01962 857275) £20, including a glass of Prosecco and nibbles (concessions £17:50; children 17 and under £7.50)

Bubbles and song

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Not n-ice skating in Winchester

December brings the excellent Christmas market and ice rink in Winchester – and the opportunity for some father/daughter bonding. The ice rink did slightly resemble a swimming pool, but the weather was sunny and the hot chocolate beckoning. Suffice it to say, we both had ‘incidents’; mine involved a quick swim to the side and no cycling for a week, whilst Livi’s involved two separate trips in an ambulance, mild concussion and a chipped neck vertebrae.

So roll on December 2016.

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