Sometimes these blog titles just write themselves.
As you all well know since Grace left you in her last blog, we’ve travelled across St David’s channel on a perilous journey from the Emerald Isle and across to Wales. After a lovely day racing along the South Coast of Ireland, we got the late ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard, and arrived in St David’s late in the evening. To our campsite.
Now we’ve stayed in some interesting campsites, but this one was…well…okay, so it was essentially just a field. Also no showers. Or, okay, here were showers, but they were open, and cold, and outdoors. And a forty minute walk in to town.
That’s an issue because, in case you don’t remember, our lovely Vanny Devito has been feeling a little poorly recently, so we were planning to sleep in tents for a few nights while she went to the doctor. So we had to be walking there and back – it was a whole thing.
Get well soon
When your entire project is based around your vehicle, it’s pretty nerve-wracking to face the possibility that the vehicle might not be working any more. Cos like…you know…no van means no tour.
We woke up early and headed over to the Bishop’s Palace – our performance location for the next few days – to drop off everything that we’d be needing. And then I took Vanny up the mechanic’s. St David’s Garage in St David’s.
He gave me the low down – if the steering pump was gone, and we’d been driving the van for upwards of 300 miles before getting her to a mechanic, there was every possibility that they would need to replace the steering rack too. Long story short, the whole repair could be costing us over a grand. But hey, he said, sometimes people get lucky.
I left the mechanic praying that we’d be one of those people – they said to call back at 3pm and they’d let me know what the plan was.
The next few hours were spent floating around the town. I’m not someone who’s particularly scared of failure, but staring failure dead in the face is really quite an unpleasant prospect. There were lots of thoughts going through my head, but most of all, the thought that maybe we had bitten off a bit more than we could chew with this project. Cos I mean, let’s be real. It’s a bit silly if you think about it.
I’m not necessarily saying that we had some divine intervention, but the guy running the garage. St David’s Garage. His name was David.
It turns out that someone had done a bit of a bad job rooting the hydraulics through the steering pumps at some point in the last few years. So a pipe had burst. So he fixed it.
Good news, the van works. Bad news, he said it’s really a temporary fix, and we’ll need to get it looked again after tour. In the grand scheme of things, this news seemed pretty fucking good to me.
If you are ever in South-West Wales, and you are having an issue with your car. Just trust me, go to St David’s Garage.
And while I’m on the subject of recommendations…after I collected the van, we went over to our campsite and collected up all our stuff. Because we were moving to the Bishop’s Palace – a medieval ruin, and our performance location. Amanda, the custodian of the site, had been amazingly helpful, and this was probably the easiest site for us to interact with on this project. We explained the situation with the van to her earlier in the day, and she said that if it gets fixed up, we’d be more than welcome to park in the back of the palace and stay there.
We had a barbeque in the field behind the palace, and watched the sunset while bats shot across the skyline .
I don’t know if you heard, but there was a pretty big football game on last Wednesday. Which was Catastrophic for two reasons really. One because England lost (oh no boo hoo bad at the kick-ball tragedy strikes) but 2 – and more importantly – because we had a show on that no-one seemed interested in. We spent the whole day flyering, largely to responses of ‘oh I’m sorry, I’m going to be watching the football.’
It was fine, you know, whatever, I don’t mind. Just a little disheartening. But overall fine.
We arrive for our performance expecting no audience at all, and begin our warm-up. For the first time in a long time, we actually had the time, as well as permanency of location, to do some work with our performance space – we played some games to get used to the space that we were in, and spoke about how living and performing in this ruined medieval monument might augment our performance.
AND BOY WERE WE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED.
This was our biggest audience so far, with about 39 people in attendance. That might not seem like much, but it’s incredibly exciting for us – and we were able to accommodate them all comfortably, thanks to our beautiful bell tent from The Bell Tent Boutique! The difference, I think, was that the Bishop’s Palace have been so helpful in sorting out our publicity – they have had our posters on display for weeks, and they’ve been really helping to publicise the show. That meant that word about the project reached the town ages ago, so people could plan accordingly.
Of course, there’s also the fact that St David’s is a stunningly creative town. There is a gallery around every corner, and although it is quite set up for tourists, it still retains that local charm.
I would happily say that this was the best show we’ve done so far.
Only one other major thing happened that day – we went shopping and OH MY GOD it’s so nice to be back. Ireland was amazing but the food is so freaking expensive. 59p for a packet of cookies? Now that’s much more like it.
The masses descend
A day like any other really – we showered up at the tourist information centre (did I mention that already? We were showering at the tourist information centre. They were very helpful and lovely – drop in if you’re in St David’s). And then we started our day of flyering. Of course, we didn’t have the football to contend with today, so it was a slightly more pleasant experience.
So yep, just trotting along, doing our thing, being us, the usual and then EVERYONE FROM ST DAVID’S CAME TO OUR SHOW.
The tent was practically bursting at the seems when the show kicked off, and more people kept trickling in as the show progressed. It was hard work to keep everyone engaged, but I think we overall managed it, and when Amanda came to give us the report at the end of the day, she told us that we had an audience of 93. That’s more than double our expected capacity.
Everything about this project is rewarding, but seeing so many people interested in what we’re doing. That’s especially so.
We made dinner and took a small excursion to the pub, deservedly proud of everything that we had done to get to where we were.
Since then, we woke up and headed to our next location – Bala – via a quick stop in Aberystwyth. We’ve had some minor venue nightmares (there’s always a foil to something as pleasant as St David’s) but we’re feeling overall very positive about it here. We’ve got some family members up to see us, and we think it’s going to be a really fab show.
Also it’s my birthday today. We’ll keep you updated on how that goes (spoilers, pints are £1.99 in this town, so expect it to get a little rowdy).