The time when we met everyone’s family

Okay, so maybe we didn’t meet everyone’s family. But, as you’ll know if you’ve read Oli’s previous blog post, Bala was all set to be a weekend of fun, family, and festivities (it was a special someone’s birthday after all). And it certainly did not disappoint!

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Look at what a beautiful view we had to wake up to!

Happy birthday to Oli!

Although Saturday may have been a very special day, that didn’t mean there wasn’t still work to be done. I was on the first flyering shift at 12 with the birthday boy. So, at just after 11:30 we wondered into town to get him his desired birthday breakfast, croissants. We walked into the Co-Op, went over to their bakery section, and were met with extreme disappointment as there were no croissants left! A disaster I’m sure you can agree, one must have what they want for breakfast on their birthday!! This meant we were now on a mission to find Oli a croissant, we searched high and low, and eventually the Spar came to our rescue and Oli was able to snag their last croissant and pain-au-chocolat.

Once the birthday boy had been fed, we set about flyering the town. There was so many lovely people, and we had a really positive reaction from the people of Bala. One of the highlights of the day, however, was when Oli caught a glimpse of his parents who had come up to Bala to surprise him. It was like watching a child who just got exactly what they wanted for Christmas, as he skip-jumped across the road (the green man was flashing on the traffic lights don’t worry. We take road safety very seriously here at BoxedIn).

Literally so many family members

So, it turns out that Bala was the most convenient location for not only Oli’s parents, but Adam and Hanna’s too. We all met Adam’s parents on Friday night when they came down to look at the van their son had been living in for the past month and a half. We also met Lucy, the CUTEST dog ever. She will probably hold the title of my favourite audience member ever for a very long time!

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She’s just sooooo cute!!

Saturday was the day to meet the Lawsons and the Savages. I nearly flyered this jolly family who were walking down the street towards me, until I saw that one of them was Hanna and expertly deduced this meant they were probably her family. Now, the Lawson’s do not do things by halves, if anyone was coming to support Hanna that meant they were ALL coming to see her. I met her parents, Grandparents, and her Grandparents’ friends, all of whom are truly wonderful people!

Later that afternoon Rowan and I went back to the van to have our lunch and stumbled across the Savages having a family birthday lunch by the lake. Carol and Ken were also so kind and easy to talk to, and it was really special to be surrounded by such a warm family atmosphere.

And it blew up like a circus tent!

That afternoon, we set about putting up our Bell Tent Boutique tent in our new performance location by the Penllyn leisure centre. There was a strong breeze coming off the lake, and as soon as we opened the entrance of the tent to put it up the tent filled up with air. It stood taller than it had ever stood before, and from the inside it looked almost like a big top. We managed to battle the breeze and put the tent up, and that evening there was a lovely atmosphere as the tent was filled with family, friends, and residents of Bala.

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How pretty is our tent??

Party time!

After the show, Carol and Ken kindly took us all out for dinner at Plas Yn Dre to celebrate Oli’s birthday. As we all sat around the dinner table enjoying a delicious meal, Ana and I reflected on what a special experience we are currently a part of. All the people around the table had experienced the joy from our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and the tour had impacted all our lives in some way. Even though not all our families were there, the camaraderie around the table made us feel like we had created our own little family that weekend in Bala. It was a truly wonderful evening.

Once we had lined our stomachs with some good food and the parents had left us, we hit the town! Now Bala has a great selection of drinking establishments, and at night it even has some of my favourite places, pub-clubs! For those of you how have not experienced a pub club before, you are missing out. We lit up the dance floor with our moves and enthusiasm (which may or may not have been ignited by a couple of tequila shots), and we partied the night away.

The day after the night before

The next day we all woke up a little worse for wear, some worse than others (I’m sorry I was grumpy Adam!). Adam and Oli went for breakfast with their parents before they had to make their ways back home. And Hanna and her family left to have lunch with a family friend.

After family time, we set about flyering the town again. Although it was a bit quieter because it was a Sunday, we were still greeted with lots of enthusiasm. And that evening, even though the Lawsons were the only parents still standing, we had another fab audience!

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Photo creds to the Lawsons for capturing this special action shot. 

Road trip to England?!?!

The next morning, we woke up to RAIN! It was a definite shock to the system, and a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with the weather so far. We all got ready for the day, hopped in the van, went to Co-Op for some breakfast, and then set off on a road trip to England. It may be home to half of our team, but we were yet to go to England. As it is a pretty long drive from Bala to Keswick, we had scheduled a stop in Manchester. I had never been, but I’d heard great things, so I was VERY excited, and I was NOT disappointed! Once we arrived in Manchester, Hanna, Oli, and Rowan went to the bank to sort out important financial things, Ana met up with a friend, Adam found a coffee shop to charge all his electrical appliances, and I went to Boots because as much as I love local pharmacies they do not stock everything, and when you live in a van having all the necessary toiletries is a must. I then met up with Hanna and we went to a vintage shop/vegan café called Teatime Collective. Now, you don’t have to be vegan to appreciate this place, if you have taste buds you will have a good time, 10 out of 10 recommend. Hanna and I then browsed the shops vowing not to spend any money. A shout out to Thunder Egg who managed to make us break this promise we made to ourselves, because we needed those clothes.

After our whistle stop visit to the city, we set off to the Steele’s house, as they had very kindly agreed to host us that evening. We arrived in the pouring rain which could have put a dampener on things, but we were very warmly welcomed into their beautiful family home. I had forgotten how nice it was to be in a building where you could walk up the stairs. This may sound weird, but when you’ve been living in a van for nearly two months, it’s the little things that bring you joy!

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Thank you to the Steeles for such a lovely evening!

Annabel had also invited some of our friends from St Andrews, Ellie Burke and Henry Roberts round so we could have a mini summer reunion. Nicky and Tom were the hosts with the most providing us with multiple snacks, copious amounts of alcohol, and delicious barbeque on one of the only days this summer that has not been barbeque weather. By the time we all went to bed we were very full, very content, and very excited to get a good night’s sleep!

The next morning came around far too quickly. And once we had emptied the Steele’s hot water tank as we do very much enjoy having access to an actual, proper shower, we headed off on our way to our next destination Keswick. I’ll leave it to Oli to tell you all about our adventures here. Spoilers, we have found some more incredibly kind and wonderful people who are willing to support this crazy adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Wales of a Time

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.

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But still…you know…stunningly beautiful

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.

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She was looking a little poorly 😦

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.

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This is where we lived for like 3 days…

We had a barbeque in the field behind the palace, and watched the sunset while bats shot across the skyline .

Football Crazy

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.

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Mixtape dropping autumn this year.

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.

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SO many people!

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.

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Down to our stellar flyering, of course.

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.

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Our view last night.

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).

Saying goodbye to the Emerald Isle

When Oli left you, we had arrived in our final Irish destination, Crosshaven. Now, I’ve made no secret about how much I love Ireland. I think my most overused phrases this past month have been, ‘this place is my favourite’, and ’10 out of 10 coming back here’.  So, as you can imagine, the prospect of performing in Ireland for the last time was not something I was looking forward to. I was, however, very much looking forward to visiting Crosshaven because, well, it was another Irish destination and the Emerald Isle hadn’t let me down so far, and Crosshaven certainly did not disappoint!

We arrived at the GAA (Gaelic Athletics Association) our original performance venue. And whilst it was a lovely location, it was a bit too far out of town, there were no permanently accessible bathrooms, and we couldn’t actually find any members of staff to talk to. This presented a slight problem. We needed a performance venue, we needed to publicise our show, we needed access to showers, and we needed food, like fast. It was gone 1 and we are a hungry group of travellers. So, we headed on into the town.

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The beautiful view from the GAA

Of course, our first port of call was the local supermarket to buy our lunch. As I’ve stressed before, this tour is not cheap, and we are all students, so saving money is of vital importance. My standard go-to lunch is a good bit of bread and hummus and an apple, nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive. Rowan managed to out-do all our finds though, and got herself a whole tomato, pesto, and olive focaccia for only €2!! It’s safe to say we were all a bit jealous of her steal. Although, it must be noted that it did somewhat defeat her, apparently it got very oily towards the end!

After we’d had our lunch it was time to get to work. Our new performance venue next to the Rivers End Café was secured, and we all set about writing our updated location on our flyers while Oli went in search of some showers for us. Han played us all her ‘Vannn’ playlist (spoilers it’s full of bangers!!) while we wrote in the sunshine. All in all it was pretty idyllic. Then Oli made our day even better by telling us that he had found us showers! We must thank the Royal Cork Yacht Club for letting a smelly touring theatre company use their lovely showers for three days. It was an absolute treat!

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Ana, Hanna, and Rowan all went for a yummy breakfast at the Rivers End Cafe before their flyering shifts. 

Once all our problems had been solved it was time to get on with publicising our shows. We split into teams of two as usual. Adam and Ana canvassing the shops, Hanna and Rowan taking the left side of the town, while Oli and I took the right. Posting flyers through letterboxes is usually a harmless task, however, after just moments earlier telling Oli that I had never been attacked by a dog while flyering I faced THREE near death experiences. Fun fact for you all, running away from dogs after walking up the mountainous drive ways that EVERY HOUSE in Crosshaven seemed to have was NOT easy! But hey, at least it helped keep me fit I guess!

At the end of all our flyering shifts we all met up again. Adam and Ana had done an exceptionally good job and had found Dennis and Jolene at Cronins Bar, who have earned Catherine-level status as being absolutely amazing! They posted about our shows on their Facebook page, let us use their toilets, and even offered us free dinner! Which we took, I mean come on its free food, also it looked AMAZING!! After a lovely dinner, a couple of drinks and a few games of cards, we all went to bed satisfied and looking forward for the next day in Crosshaven.

 

The next morning was our first experience of the marina showers. Now, after a week of campsite showers you cannot understand how excited we were to wash our hair in a proper shower, where you can control the water temperature and how long the shower runs for. We were not disappointed, it was bliss. Freshly showered and smelling and looking beautiful we set about the day’s task of flyering to drum up interest for our show. In a slight change to our usual schedule, the three flyering shifts were intersected with a tent putting up session, because Adam had to watch the England vs Sweden match. Now, we’ve been putting this tent up now for over a month, so we were not prepared for something to stall this well-oiled machine. We’ve experienced many different types of weather on our travels, rain, wind, extreme heat, but what we have not had to encounter so far is a sea breeze. And let me tell you, these are deceptively tricky beasts. We had to fully attempt to put up the tent TWICE because the first time the breeze nearly blew the tent away. This meant that Adam missed the beginning of the match (sorry pal!), but our beautiful Bell Tent Boutique Tent was up, and giving us lots of free publicity by being a great spectacle of interest.

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Isn’t she pretty! 

The community of Crosshaven had been brilliant in spreading the word about our show, and this meant that we had our biggest audience for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and certainly the highest number of children we’d ever had in the crowd. As our shows were created to be fun for the whole family, it was really interesting and informative to see how the children responded to our show. Shakespeare can be difficult to understand even as an adult, but we really think the addition of original music helped to keep the children engaged in what can be a tricky piece of theatre! After the show we were presented with the offer of yet another free dinner from Cronins, which we did not dare turn down. We sat outside the pub to enjoy our food, and after we had finished the Crosshaven Ukuleladies began to play. The atmosphere was magical as everyone gathered around to sing together against the backdrop of the setting sun.

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Look at the Ukeladies being fab!! 

The next day started off very much like the last. I LOVE HAVING ACCESS TO A SHOWER!!! and, having learnt from our previous mistakes, the tent was set up at a much faster speed. We then welcomed our biggest audience to date for ‘To The Ocean’, and after we had packed everything away, were gifted with the generosity of the Cronins staff and another free dinner. After dinner we bought ice creams to celebrate our final night in Ireland, and then went into the pub to play a good game of ‘Who is most likely to …’ I shall not give away any secrets that were divulged during this game because, what goes on tour, stays on tour. But let’s just say there was a lot of laughter.

This morning we got up bright and early and left Crosshaven. After a brief stop in Waterford to buy another tent (I’ll let Oli explain this one), and some lunch, we set off to Rosslare to catch the ferry over to Wales. I am currently sat on the ferry as I write, and I cannot wait to get to St David’s!! I went with my family when I was younger, and it only holds good memories for me. So I am so, so excited to go back! But I’ll leave it to Oli to tell you all about that part of our crazy adventure!

On the road again.

We’re back at it again – after we each went our separate ways last week for a much deserved rest, we assembled in Cork Airport on Monday, fresh as daisies and ready to start up again.

Hanna arrived back with us on Tuesday morning, after a lovely time in Texas, and with that, we headed off to our next location, Clonakilty.

Just a heads up, this one is quite van-heavy.

Steering us in the right direction

Clonakilty is a lovely town. Really beautiful, welcoming, friendly.

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See look, so pretty.

My experience of it, however, was a little bit mixed. Please excuse the lack of photos as a result.

We arrived at our planned performance venue (the Clonakilty Agricultural Showgrounds), and after a little bit of confusion, decided that we should head in to town to see if there was anywhere else that we might be able to perform. Not too much of an issue.

Then, the valve on one of the tyres broke. It started leaking. Fast.

I hopped in the van to take it to a tyre shop. Worst-case we’d need to buy a new tyre.

As I got in the van, the arm on my glasses broke.

I drove to the mechanics with the glasses half hanging off my face – going about 10km an hour down what was probably the largest road in Clonakilty is not a particularly good way to endear yourself to the locals.

I dropped the van at the mechanics, and they fixed the whole while I went to a shop and bought some superglue.

Tyre fixed, glasses fixed, sorted.

At that point, I realised that there was a wet patch underneath the van – directly beneath the bonnet. You see, the steering on the van had been a little stiff for the last few days – I thought it was just because we needed more steering fluid, so I topped it up before we left Cork.

But nope. It was leaking.

Great.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t something that could be fixed that day, so I parked up the van and headed in to town to join up with the rest of the team and do some flyering/try to work out where we were going to perform.

Sitting in the square in town, we were at a bit of a loss – green spaces weren’t immediately presenting themselves to us, and the town seemed quite built up.

“Should we go ask in there?” Hanna pointed to a doorway that had the words Clonakilty Community Arts Centre printed about it. That was how we met Sam and Thaddeus – Clonakilty, as it turns out, has an incredibly active and fairly large community arts group. Over the next few days, they were so incredibly helpful both in helping us find our performance space and in helping us pull together an audience for our shows.

Thaddeus took us on a little tour around the town, pointing out all the green spaces that we might be able to use – but in the end, we settled on our original space, after we ironed out the kinks.

We drove up to Desert House camp-site where we stayed for our time in Clonakilty, and had our first camp-stove dinner in a long time. Would you believe me when I say I missed it?

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Sometimes living in a van is quite nice really.

Getting fixed up

We spent the next day running from mechanic to mechanic trying to work out what was wrong with the van – the long and short of it was:

  1. The steering pump (the thing that pressurises the fluid for power-assisted steering) was looking very worse for wear. It’s not completely dead, but it needs replaced in the next 500 miles or so.
  2. Every mechanic in Ireland was busy at the moment.

Especially because we needed to catch our ferry to Wales on the 9th, this was a bit of an issue – every mechanic that I called was totally fully-booked. I think down to the amazingly hot weather that Ireland’s been having at the moment.

After some advice from our breakdown-cover providers about how soon we needed to repair the van, we called a mechanic in St David’s, our first stop in Wales, who said that he should be able to get it sorted while we’re there.

So for now, the problem was solved, and we headed back to the performance site to get ready for the show.

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What a pretty tent we have!

Despite a week long break, it went off without a hitch – I think that was in part because we had a fairly large audience that was also super vocal and responsive.

Clean me up, Scotty

So I’m not going to lie to you, living in a van for a month and a bit has it draw backs – probably the largest of which is the lack of a washing machine. I’ve been recycling clothes for weeks now. Everything smells. Send help.

Anyway, Hanna and I decided that enough was enough. We packed up all our gross, smelly, mouldy laundry, and found a fantastic laundrette/biohazard clinic in town that would wash and dry them all before we left the next morning.

I was uncertain that anyone would be able to clean these clothes – I don’t know what she did to them, but I now smell like a daffodil at all times. Which makes a nice change to however I smelt before.

We dropped our laundry off, and then found a café so that we could order…wait for it…OUR MERCHANDISE. Photos will be available when they arrive, but it’s basically a white baseball shirt with blue sleeves and the tour logo on the front. We’re actually going to have a few spare, so if anyone is interested in buying one, please hit us up!

We got to flyering, and then met up at the showgrounds again for our last performance in Clonakilty – we had a special visit from a kid named Lyle, who brought his family to see the show for his birthday. Of course, that was heart-warming, and it gave us the boost that we really needed to put on another fantastic show.

There was an open-mic night in town, and we had planned to go, but by the time we got back to the camp-site, I think we were all pretty tired. It was time for bed.

And that was it – our time in Clonakilty was done. Overall, a beautiful and friendly town.

Oh also, I almost forgot, totally over-run with roadworks at the moment. Like we were frequently in traffic that was at a total stand-still. But they’ll be finished by the end of the summer I believe, and I imagine the town will be even nicer when they’re done.

Yesterday, we drove out to our next and final location in Ireland – Crosshaven. I’ll let Grace tell you all about that next time. Spoilers, it’s pretty beautiful too.

Our largest audience so far!

Now this blog post is coming to you a bit late, because it was my 21stlast week and that’s the only excuse I have. But also, this is a cleverly-timed marketing ploy because we go back on tour TOMORROW after a well-deserved week off. So, this little reminiscence is a chance for you to GET HYPED for our last couple of shows in Ireland!

When Oli left you, we were waving goodbye to Killorglin, Puck, Catherine, and our biggest audience to date on a high. And it’s safe to say that this high was not burst at any point over the next couple of days!

After our Killorglin performances, it was time for us to have another day off to explore the beauty of Ireland! We started our day in Killarney, a lovely town which can claim to have possibly the world’s best value ice cream. I mean €1 for a ‘small’, which was quite possibly the biggest Mr Whippy I’ve ever seen in my life. Ice cream envy, and the fact that it was perfect weather for a Whippy almost made a girl wish she wasn’t vegan. I said ALMOST before anyone gets angry!!

Once the monster ice creams had been demolished it was time to head to Killarney House, and some of the MOST BEAUTIFUL gardens I had ever seen, ever. As Ana, Hanna, and I sat in the sunshine we got a call from Oli saying there was a free photography exhibition in the House. He did not need to tell us twice, not only was it free (a very important factor when you’re a broke student on an international theatre tour), but it was also photography which is objectively great!! We went into the house and saw some of the most breathtakingly stunning photos by Norman McCloskey. McCloskey had collated an exhibition of photos he’d taken around the Killorglin National Park that you just have to see to understand how amazing they were. He managed to create something that was both completely natural but also had an ethereal quality to it. I mean, that’s the beauty of nature.

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Look how pretty it is!!

While I was walking round the exhibition for the five-hundredth time (safe to say I’m a fan), a man who worked at the house came and asked us if we were going on the tour of the house. Due to some error in communication between Oli and Rowan, Adam, Rowan, and I ended up on the tour. As we walked through the large, white, ornate door to embark on our tour, we all shared a look that let each other know we were not 100% sure what was going on. The rooms were beautiful, our tour guide was very well informed, and we learnt a lot about the house (not that I could tell you any of it now, it’s been a while), but all in all it was a bit of a bizarre experience. We felt like three school children who had accidentally gone into a class they weren’t supposed to be in. Once the house tour was over, we made our way back out into the gardens where Ana, Hanna, and Oli were waiting for us. When the joking about how we ended up on the house tour was over, we headed onto our next tourist destination, Muckross Abbey.

We all spilled out of the van into the car park and were greeted by a very strong smell of horse manure. As we made our way towards the Abbey, the origins of this smell soon became clear, as horse and cart rides were being offered to the Abbey and through the surrounding countryside. Obviously, we were too poor to be able to go on one, but they really added to the charm of the place, giving the whole experience a nice Jane Austen vibe.

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Getting our Northanger Abbey vibes on

Carrying on along the Austen theme our next adventure was to Muckross House, or as we like to call it, all of ours’ dream home. When we arrived, we had our lunch on the grass alfresco style and then started to walk over to the house, passing the sign to a sweet shop we all made a mental note to stop there on the way back to the van. The gardens of the house were stunning, and because it was such a lovely day we decided to go and explore them first before entering the house. We ‘found’ a little beach next to the lake at the bottom of the garden, with a view that I can only describe as breath taking, I mean look at it!! Oli taught Ana and Hanna to skim stones so that we actually knew what we were doing in ‘To The Ocean’, while Adam, Rowan, and I sat on the rocks, watching and soaking up the rays. After the most idyllic half an hour I think we’ve had on tour so far, we made our way to the house. But after finding out that you had to pay to go in, we decided to explore the gardens a little bit more. In case it hasn’t been clear so far, we’re doing our days out on the CHEAP, we decided to explore the gardens a little bit more. The sun was out, and we made the most of it!

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Almost too stunning to be real

Once we’d done enough sunbathing in the gardens it was time to hit the road again. We, however, faced the biggest disappointment of the day on the way back to the van, finding out that the sign we’d seen advertising a ‘sweet shop’ was a piece of massive false-advertising. Entering the building we expected to find a shop full of jars, old-fashioned sweets, and that sugary sweet smell. Instead, we walked into a gift shop that sold about four chocolate bars. Now that might be a slight exaggeration, but what is not an exaggeration is how disappointed we all were! So, slightly disgruntled, we loaded ourselves back into the van and made our way to our next performance location, Kenmare.

After scouting which location was to be our performance site (we settled on the patch of grass at the end of a car park opposite the church), and buying food for our barbeque that evening, we headed off to our campsite just outside of Kenmare. At just £30 a night for us all we were not expecting 5* accommodation, however, that was exactly what we got at Dromquinna Manor! The toilets and showers were eccentrically called ‘his/her stables’ as they were converted stable blocks, they had showers that ran for longer than 4 minutes AND you didn’t have to pay for them, there were plugs to charge our phones ect, and the toilets were so clean, like so clean. (It’s safe to say I appreciated these facilities a lot!!) The campsite also had a ‘games room’ for campers to use, where we could all do some work, and charge our electrical devices. Another huge plus for (insert name here) is that it provided campsite-wide WiFi, and as the first leg of tour drew to an end we were definitely running low on data.

The next day we set off a little earlier than usual to commence flyering as we had had a full day off the day before. We divided into teams of two and were assigned two flyering shifts each. Rowan and I canvassed the town for an hour and a half, before we started visiting houses, posting our flyers through doors and talking to residents about the shows that would be happening that evening and on Sunday. After a three-hour flyering shift we were very much looking forward to lunch and stumbled across quite possibly the perfect café for a couple of English lit students of the vegetarian and vegan persuasion, the ‘Bookstop Cafe’, a charming vegetarian cafe and bookshop. The staff were lovely and welcoming, and the food was absolutely delicious! If you’re ever in Kenmare, this is definitely a place to visit!

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The Bookstop cafe even does vegan carrot cake!!

 

It was then time to start getting ready for the evening’s show. The weather was lovely for sitting in the shady garden of the café, but not so lovely for putting up a tent. We did come up with the genius plan of taking the bottom of the tent out though, so that the audience didn’t overheat. The brilliance of a Bell Tent Boutique tent is that it’s so easy to put together, so it is therefore super easy to take apart. We can change our performance space and adapt it to any climate without worrying that we’re going to be spending another hour trying to work out how we’re going to put it all back together again! Kenmare provided us with our biggest audiences for both shows to date. It was amazing to perform to so many people, and we would like to thank everyone for coming and for your generous donations after the show!

After our last performance of ‘To The Ocean’ on Sunday night, we packed up the van, got ourselves a quick take-away for dinner, and started our journey to Cork. After a long drive in the dark, we finally made it to Cork and found the motorhome car park that we were sleeping in that night. We set our alarms for a 4:30 start and prepared for a solid 4 hours of sleep! It’s safe to say 4:30 arrived far too quickly, Hanna was full of beans excited for her week in Texas, while the rest of us rubbed sleepy dust from our eyes and struggled to wake up. The drive to Cork airport took half an hour (creds to Oli for driving that early, I could barely keep my eyes open!), and then Han and I were dropped off outside the airport. We all said our goodbyes as we prepared for a well-deserved week off!

Now that week off has come to an end. Just thinking back over everything that has happened over the past month, I can’t wait to see what we get up to in the month to come. Watch out Ireland, Wales, England, and Scotland, we’re coming for you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ireland, you’re Kill-orglin’ me.

As I’m sure you can tell from the fantastic title of this post, it’s Oli back at it again to provide you with an update on what we’ve been getting up to. And boy has it been an exciting few days.

Killorglin is a medium-sized town on the Ring of Kerry – for those who don’t know, the Ring of Kerry is a tourist route around the county of Kerry that takes you through dramatic mountains and one of Ireland’s first ever national parks. The lush green landscapes are dotted with rivers and lakes, and when you get down here, it’s pretty clear why Ireland is referred to as the Emerald Isle.

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So much pretty. So much.

Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine (read to the tune of Dolly Parton’s Joleen).

We forsook our standard camp-site in Killorglin in favour of a totally new experience. An Airbnb. We looked around online for something cheap, and then eventually got in touch with Catherine asking how she’d feel about having 6 smelly students park their van on her drive, use her showers, and generally cause a nuisance for 3 nights.

Honestly, who could turn that offer down.

Staying with Catherine was like going home for the weekend – she provided food and snacks, great conversation, and even insisted on doing some laundry for us. Although honestly, I think that may have been more for her benefit than ours. As I’ve said, we’re getting pretty smelly at the moment. If you find yourself in Killorglin, do yourself a favour and stay with Catherine – I can guarantee you won’t find anywhere better, let alone for just €40 euros a night.

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Seriously guys, go to Killorglin, find Catherine, have an amazing time. It’s that simple.

We split in to teams to do our standard rounds of the local shops and houses, dropping off flyers and posters, but this time there was a bit of a twist. I wanted to expand the work that we’ve been doing so far in terms of getting used to and harnessing our performance spaces by exploring how the places that we’re performing – the towns and villages as a whole – can impact on the work that we do. So we infused a kind of scavenger hunt in to this flyering shift that had us looking out for some of the most beautiful things the town had to offer, and learning all about what kind of place Killorglin is.

And let me tell you, we discovered quite quickly that it is just awesome.

Stunning scenery just outside of streets, Killorglin has the personality and vibrancy of a town three times its size, while still maintaining that rural intimacy. Everywhere you turn there is something beautiful to look at, and a friendly face to greet you. Hanna and I took the outskirts of the town, and were met with a winding river and rolling hills, while Adam and Rowan caught up with the fantastic street art all across town. When we met up in one of the local pubs, we chatted about what we saw, and we universally agreed that Killorglin was a lot of things – friendly, natural, welcoming – but most of all, it was a beautiful town. We were universally excited for the next few shows.

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Puck, meet Puck

Killorglin is famous for the Puck Fair, a massive event that occurs on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August every year and draw up to 80,000 people to this otherwise unassuming town. Every year, a mountain goat is caught, and crowned the King Puck – he reigns over the fair, until he is a released back in to the wild on the 12th, in a ceremony known as ‘The Scattering.’

But that’s not the only big deal in Killorglin – the first weekend in June also plays host to K-Fest, one of the biggest festivals of art, music, and drama across Ireland. You see, we soon discovered that travelling attractions are sewn in to the fabric this town, so our event kind of slotted right in.

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They even had a field that fitted us just right.

Of course, shout out to the fabulous Catherine, as well as Conor Browne, out contact over a K-Fest. Between them, we were able to garner a lot of interest in the project just through social media, with K-Fest building the hype, and various other local organisations soon jumped on the band-wagon. This was a big learning point for us – we had our biggest audiences so far in Killorglin. In part, I think that’s because of the nature of the town, but the social media coverage and support from local organisations definitely helped. That’s an avenue that we’re going to be pursuing with more vigour over the rest of the tour.

I was pretty nervous for this performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Aside from having our largest audience so far, a statue of King Puck stands just across the river from our performance space, guarding the entrance to the town, and welcoming everyone in. And as our resident Puck, I was feeling the pressure – Puck is know to be a mischievous spirit, and we definitely didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. But then, he’s also known to be curious, energetic, and powerful, and I think he was pretty keen to see what we had to offer. In the end, the show went fantastically. So fantastically, in fact, that some of the folk from K-fest offered to buy us a round after the show finished.

Frankly, it would have been rude for us not to accept, so we joined them on a night out, and got to see even more of what Killorglin had to offer.

 

All press is good press

I’m not going to go in to this too much. Because you’ll get bored. But we spent a lot of this day working on our press releases for the Edinburgh Fringe and compiling lists of reviewers that we wanted to get in touch with. It was busy, it was hard, and it was tiring, but in the end everyone pulled together and put in a truly fantastic shift to make sure we got it done. We’re starting to send out our releases this week. Which is very exciting.

We arrived at our performance space ready for our last show in Killorglin, and were treated to our best audience so far. Tired and happy, we took the tent down, headed home, and made dinner before getting an early night.

We had to hop off early as Catherine was greeting some more guests in her house that morning. Of course, we couldn’t have left without a photo, so we dragged her outside as a way of saying thank you for her hospitality, and then headed off to our next stop, Kenmare.

We drove past the statue of King Puck on the way out of town. I don’t know, I think he was smiling at us. I may sound stupid, but I really do think that the spirit of Puck is imbued in Killorglin. Cheeky, energetic, vibrant, fun, and a little mischievous – the kind of place where touring theatre in a tent could go down a treat. And the kind of place where, if you flatter King Puck in the right way – bring him to life and give him a few songs to sing – then you can be damn sure that the whole town will be on your side. As if by magic.

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Thanks King Puck. We hope to be back really soon.

Our drive to Kenmare took us through the Killarney national park. I’ll let Grace tell you about that when she writes next.

Spoilers, it was stunning.

We played at a folk festival! Well kind of …

Hey, it’s Grace again, ready to tell you all about our marvellous experience in one of my new favourite towns, Doolin. As you left things with Oli we were preparing for our first performance in Doolin, somewhere that I can now call one of my favourite towns I’ve been to, EVER! (I will unashamedly love Doolin forever!!)

Donkeying around

We arrived in Doolin on a very windy Friday afternoon to find that our performance field was inhabited by none other than one of the cutest donkeys I’ve ever seen. Despite the (in my opinion) wholly unnecessary signs warning you that could only pet the donkey at your own risk, we discovered that he had a very itchy neck and really did not like having his nose stroked! The donkey, let’s call him Eric, did not actually stay in the field with us, as after a conversation with the Aliee River Hostel staff who were kindly hosting us, Eric was removed into another field. This, it turns out was actually quite a big disappointment for many people who were staying in Doolin. As we set up the tent that evening, every other comment we heard from passers-by seemed to be lamenting the loss of Eric. We later found a picture of Eric in the tourist information centre, making us feel slightly bad for forcing the removal of a local celebrity from his field.

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Look at how cute Eric is!!

Yet more flyering – but so much more …

Well aware that, although fab, the Doolin Folk Festival which was happening the same weekend as our performances would cause us to have to compete for audience members for our shows, we set about flyering as soon as we arrived. Oli had some important calls to make and emails to send as he is our Artistic Director and all that. So, we split into two teams to tackle the flyering. Adam and Rowan taking the left side of the town. While Ana, Hanna, and I took the right. Now, I have mixed feelings about flyering. Having no previous flyering experience before this tour I was unsure of how to approach it. At times it can be lovely as it gives you the chance to meet some really lovely, and interesting people. At others, however, it is one of the most utterly soul-destroying activities as person after person tells you they are not interested in something that you have put your heart and soul into. I’m pleased to say that Doolin provided the former, rather than the latter kind of people. Every single shop, B&B, and café we went into happily accepted our flyers, chatted with us about the show, and all said they would tell their customers to come and see it. I have never met a group of more lovely, welcoming people, and a little piece of my heart will always be in Doolin with all of those incredibly kind people.

My heart will also remain in Doolin because of its A-MAZE-ING chocolate shop, aptly named ‘The Doolin Chocolate Shop’. When Ana, Hanna, and I entered the chocolate shop to see if they would take some flyers, and we were in heaven!! They even had a VEGAN peanut butter chocolate slice!! Now if there are two things in my life that I love more than anything (apart from theatre of course) it’s peanut butter and chocolate, so I had not been so happy in a very, very long time. I mean I didn’t need confirmation that I loved Doolin, but the chocolate shop definitely sealed the deal!

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If you ever go to Doolin, you MUST go to this shop!!

 

Once we had successfully filled every shop with our beautiful flyers, we went back to Eric’s field to set up our tent. As we have now had lots of practice at erecting our exceptionally easy to put-up tent from the brilliant Bell Tent Boutique, our tent sponsors for this tour, we got it up in no time! We then, however, saw the beautifully clear sky cloud over. Now our Bell Tent can withstand many, many weather conditions, but our van cannot and so a damp tent along with 6 very damp actors can only spell a very, very bad smell. Therefore, fearing a Roundstone part 2 kind of event, we checked the weather, and then decided to take the tent down.

You always meet the nicest people in hostels!

Thanks to Aliee River Hostel we had access to A REAL KITCHEN!!! Team cook had not been so excited for an extremely long time! We cooked a lovely stir fry, a fab curry, and nice big pot of pasta for us all. As we discovered pretty early on, Doolin may be beautiful, have lovely cafes, pubs, and chocolate shops, but it is not the best for basic amenities. The nearest grocery shop was not within easy walking distance. So, a special shout out must go to chef Savage for making a delicious pasta dish by, ‘heating up a couple of tins of things’ (kind of quote from Oli).

But the highlight of being able to use the hostel facilities must have been the people that we met in the bathroom area. After a day and the majority of the night at the Doolin Folk Festival, as you can imagine the majority of the hostels’ residences were very jolly by midnight. We heard lots of fun stories, got given some very sage advice (eating is cheating, and you can sleep when you’re dead), and even enjoyed a good old dance with a particularly talented Irish dancer, let’s call him Gavin.

The kindness, fun, and enthusiasm of everyone we had met during our time in Doolin was epitomised in our audiences. We would like to particularly thank Michelle West and Paul Reardon of Paul Reardon Photography for being exceptionally generous and wonderful audience members!

AND we went on a boat trip …

After some fab performances over the weekend, we thought we’d treat ourselves on our day off on Monday. So, while Adam and Rowan decided to take a well-deserved lie in, Ana, Hanna, Oli, and I took a boat trip to the Cliff of Moher. As we were reliably informed by the captain, the winds were light, but the swell was strong. This meant that we had a rather choppy boat ride, but Han had been saying that she wanted to go to a theme park, so that’s basically the same thing as a rollercoaster, right?? The cliffs were beautiful, and although we couldn’t see everything because it was rather foggy, the scenery was still exceptionally beautiful!

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When we got back from the boat trip, we said goodbye to the hostel and headed on the road again. After a short stay in Castle Gregory at the beautiful Green Acres campsite, today we arrived in Killorglin. This town is beautiful, creative, and community-orientated town, and we are really looking forward to performing in and exploring this wonderful place!

 

 

 

 

Rain, Rain, Literally just please go away.

BOOM BOOM, 2 BLOGS IN 1 (sorry, we’re a bit behind so we’re trying to catch up).

Okay so here’s the deal. Grace and I realised that we need to do a whole lot of blogging (like a WHOLE lot of blogging) to keep you fantastically keen beans updated and interested in what’s going on with us, and in case you hadn’t realised, Wi-Fi can be pretty scarce when you’re rambling through the Irish countryside in a van and begging unsuspecting campsite-owners to please let you use their showers because I haven’t showered in ten days and I smell like I died some-time when we were crossing the Irish Sea.

Sorry, this is getting to me a little bit.

ANYWAY, we’re going to be alternating between blog posts. So buckle up kids, cos it’s my turn.

The Emerald Isle

Oh BOY is there a lot to update you on. So in our last post, we left you in Enniskillen, a lovely town in the South West of Northern Ireland. Well since then, we’ve crossed the border and headed in to the Republic of Ireland, spending most of Monday driving around the countryside looking for Wi-Fi and somewhere to grab a fantastic pint.

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A BoxedIn NightOut in Galway

Of course, we ended up in Galway – now for any of our intrepid friends who may be thinking about coming to Ireland in a campervan, be warned, Galway isn’t a particularly welcoming city for campers. There’s a load of history and politics – I won’t get in to it – but basically, there is only one spot that you can park up. Which of course, we didn’t know, so after driving for about 5 hours, we spent another hour and a half roaming around central Galway in our creeper van looking for somewhere to park without someone calling the police.

Which, in fairness, seems like a reasonable response.

We parked up by the docks – a beautiful little Marina with yachts and boats, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and then spent the evening in central Galway. We ended up in a pub called The Quays – a fantastic little haunt reminiscent of one of my favourite pubs in London, with live music from Sult and Three Legged Dog, both local to Galway. We enjoyed a few drinks and just soaked up the atmosphere – if you’re in to live music, Galway is an absolute must. There are tunes spilling out of absolutely every pub, and the level of talent is astounding, It’s an amazingly creative city, at least from what we saw, and to be honest, I’d recommend it to anyone.

Out of the city

We woke up the next morning in need of a wee and a shower, so we drove a little bit around the corner to Salthill. If it wasn’t for the temperature, this place could be straight out of the Caribbean. Clear, blue water and long, white stretches of sand adorn this promenade. While some of us opted for the local public shower, Hanna, Ana and I went for a dip in the sea. Which was freezing, but I can only imagine it was infinitely more refreshing.

We took a short walk around Galway, taking in some of the sights. The Cathedral is stunning, but my personal favourite was our short stroll by the Salmon weir, where we could see tens of fisherman wading through the water and trying to catch the Atlantic salmon that migrate upstream this time of year.

And then, we headed off and on to the next location, Roundstone.

Which was stunning.

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Literally just such a cute place.

This coast of Ireland is referred to as the Wild Atlantic Way, and it’s clear to see why. Mountains rise and fall out of nowhere, and scrub adorns the almost purple rock terraces. Lochs here and there reflect the clouds and the sunlight back at you, and every crest suggests a stunning ocean vista. Which is exactly what we were greeted with in Roundstone. The sun was shining, the day was warm, and we hopped out of the van to rustle up a warm shower and hand out some flyers. Unfortunately, we had no luck with the shower, which meant that we had to stay about a mile and a half outside of this beautiful town in a smelly caravan site. I was disappointed.

But I totally shouldn’t have been.

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Quick detour to the Caribbean and then back to tour I guess…

This is the view that we had when we arrived. Yet another clear, white beach, and the picturesque blue water. I knew that the Irish coast was supposed to be beautiful, but this was something else.

We had dinner on the beach, and hung out a bit until we decided to go to bed, the soft sound of the waves in the near distance lulling us to sleep. Everything was so quiet and peaceful.

NOPE

In fairness, we should have been a bit more prepared for the rain. When we woke up, the van was literally ROCKING from side to side with the wind and the rain, and even stepping outside filled our shoes up with water.

It was freezing, the rain was lashing down, and the sea was now thunderous and angry.

We showered (shower rating 3/10 – so powerful it literally hurt, and mouldy shower curtains, but warm at least) and then headed in to town. We were huddled up in our waterproofs, and when we pulled up in our performance location by the Roundstone musical instrument shop, the weather had gotten worse. The wind was absolutely howling.

We banded together and tried to get the tent up – a massive shout out to Bell Tent Boutique, our tent sponsors for this project. Despite literal pouring rain and gale force winds, the tent absolutely held its own – we struggled against the weather to get it up, but when it got up, it stayed up. This is a piece of canvas suspended by a pole and guy ropes that can withstand gale force winds man that is actually so freaking cool. Like think about that for a second. Man I love this tent.

The tent could withstand the weather, what couldn’t, was us, which meant that we had to take the tent down and cancel our performance.

After wandering around the town trying to find somewhere we could leave our clothes and our tent to dry, we called it a day early, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a pub, chatting, playing card games, and waiting for the awful weather to pass. This was our first cancelled show, and while I was disappointed, I was so immensely proud of how hard everyone worked to get the tent up and down again that it almost didn’t matter.

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These are a load of superstars we have here.

 

Back at it again

It didn’t stop us for long though – the rain on Thursday was bad, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the day before. So, we came in to town and got that tent pitched.

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LOOK AT HER SHE’S SO PRETTY!!

We spent the day flyering and trying to wrangle up an audience, before taking to the stage with To The Ocean. Considering the weather and everything, we were kind of dying to perform, and I was blown away with the work that the guys did. Really really fantastic, they totally blew me away.

Our final night in Roundstone was spent around the table at the community centre, watching a movie and sheltering from the last of the rain.

We’ve now arrived in Doolin, performing on the fringes of the Doolin Folk Music Festival. It’s really very exciting and even though the weather is still a bit rubbish, we’re buzzing. Tonight’s our first show, and I honestly can’t wait.

 

We’re in Ireland!

So last time we left you, we were on the ferry to Northern Ireland, excited to explore a new country and perform to our very first Irish audience. Well, we can definitely say that our stay in Northern Ireland fulfilled all expectations and was a success!

We disembarked the ferry and set off on a touristy day out. We started out in Carrickfergus and went to go and have a look at its castle. As we walked around the castle, we were stopped by a man in full medieval costume who told us some interesting facts about the castle. We were not, however, able to buy any of his Carrickfergus merchandise, we are on a budget on this tour let’s not forget! Consequently, we set off again to explore some of the beautiful Irish countryside, stopping at the Glenoe waterfall which was a perfectly scenic place to have our lunch.

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We’re not just stopping at Carrickfergus. Watch out small Irish towns, we’re coming for you!

The ‘Back of the Van’ tour takes us to 17 locations all of which, apart from Edinburgh, are rural locations so we wanted to ensure that on our days off we explore as much of the picturesque countryside as possible. So, after our lunch in Glenoe, we made our way to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and after that the natural phenomenon of The Giant’s Causeway. Both of these locations were truly amazing pieces of coast. It was clear for us to see how these locations could feed and inspire the magical story of the Selkie and make the fairy-tale believable for so many people, not just Grace in ‘To the Ocean’. In Carrick-a-Rede we even saw a seal, although the only picture we took looked like a grey blob so you’re going to have to trust us on this one!

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The beautiful Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

Our day finished in Port Gelnone, the home of the wonderful Jess Armstrong and her fantastically kind family. To say thank you for letting us stay at her house, we treated Jess to some camping-stove-fried tofu. Team cooking led by Chef Savage created a very successful meal. As we had no show the next day, we treated ourselves to a trip to the pub after dinner and found what is quite possibly one of the most charming, small, rural pub that many of us had seen.

The next morning, we left Jess and the rest of her wonderful family and started our journey to the next location on tour, Enniskillen. After being extremely lucky and experiencing some pretty spectacular weather since beginning our tour, as we drove along the Irish roads we had our first experience of rain. We were all very much expecting this to happen at some point, so as we continued to travel to Enniskillen we planned the best ways to stay dry whilst flyering in the rain. But as our luck would have it, by the time we arrived in the town the rain had eased, and we were able to explore the town and drum up some interest in our shows whilst remaining nice and dry. After a mandatory Aldi stop to buy food for dinner and extra snacks we headed on over to Riverside farm caravan park for a much-deserved rest.

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Sitting down together for another 5* camp stove dinner

We kicked off day 2 in Enniskillen by setting up our tent in the grounds of the Lakeland Forum. As people prepped for a 10km race that was to be held there, our great bell tent boutique tent attracted a lot of attention and we were lucky that this in itself generated a lot of interest in our show. Our audience for ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ were wonderful and seemed to really enjoy the energy of our performance. For our Sunday night performance of ‘To the Ocean’ we welcomed our youngest ever audience member, 5-year-old, Mia into the tent. If there ever was pressure on our actors to play a 5-year-old convincingly, it’s when an actual 5-year-old and her parents are in the audience. Again, we had another absolutely wonderful audience and we cannot thank them enough for the lovely comments after the show, as well as all the support we received on social media. Part of the aim of this tour was to make theatre more accessible to rural communities, and we cannot express how much joy it brings us to see that we are able to achieve that.

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And we all had a pretty good time too!

So, thank you to the Armstrongs, Bell Tent Boutique, Riverside farm caravan park , and every member of our audience in Enniskillen. We cannot express how grateful we are to you all. This morning we packed up and left Enniskillen behind as we begin our journey to Roundstone and the Republic of Ireland, as we take BoxedIn Theatre international for the first time.

 

 

 

 

We’re on tour!

Monday 4thJune came, the day that we had all been waiting for. After months of planning, rehearsing, and fundraising it was finally time to embark on the ‘Back of the Van’ tour! As we clambered into the van and pulled out of Oli’s drive, waving St Andrews goodbye, the prospect of what we are actually embarking on hit me. We’re spending the next two and a half months touring the UK and Ireland in the back of Vanny DeVito. Now, as you can imagine, such a daunting prospect initially induced a state of panic. Though this passed very quickly, as we sang along to ‘Queen’s Greatest Hits’ while sunshine streamed through the windows of the van. The thing that really makes this tour so special is that we’re all good friends. The fact that we have all taken on production roles means, not only are we all fully invested in all aspects of this project, but it has also allowed us all to get to know each other really well over the past 6 months and as a consequence we already feel like a slightly dysfunctional family. So, as we joined the motorway, any fear was calmed with the familiar feeling of being on a family road trip.

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Look at our little faces, full of excitement and anticipation for our travels!  

After a short travel stop in Glasgow to buy some last-minute essentials (which of course included snacks), we arrived in New Galloway for our first night in the van. New Galloway was a beautiful village, and although we were disappointed with the very early closing hour of its pub, it was a lovely place to spend our first night together.

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Our very own BackStreet Boys in New Galloway. 

Bright and early the next morning we set off for Newton Stewart, the first location on our tour. We were warmly welcomed by Sally the steward of the golf course where we were performing and set about erecting the tent. Thanks to all the tent-erecting practice we’d had over the past week as part of our pre-tour prep, we were able to put up the tent in no time. It’s also worth noting at this point that the ease of construction of the tent should also be attributed to the fact that we were not using a tent we had made ourselves, but a tent which has come from the fabulous Bell Tent Boutique. Once we had put up the tent and BoxedIn-ified it, yes of course there are fairy lights in the tent! We set off into the town centre to commence flyering for our shows. We met so many lovely, helpful people and this only served to emphasise to us why we wanted to bring theatre to communities like Newton Stewart.

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Look at our beautiful bell tent!!

The biggest challenge of tour that we were not expecting, however, was revealed to us on that evening after our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. Of all the difficulties we had planned for, we had overlooked one very, very pesky problem, midges. It was all we could do to avoid being eaten alive as we sat outside eating our dinner after the show. Although the experience for us was ‘thoroughly unpleasant’ to quote Oli Savage, we definitely provided entertainment for the rest of the campsite as we ran around trying to swat away the millions of tiny insects that were thirsting for our blood. Which for a touring theatre company is a small, very, very, slight silver lining.

The next day entailed some more flyering to drum up interest in our performance of ‘To the Ocean’. As we all took it in turns to spread the word, and with the tent already being set up, we were afforded some free time to explore the town. A definite plus of visiting rural locations is that it allows us to explore some beautiful countryside! A beauty which was highlighted by the sunshine. The weather also made the experience of flyering a lot more pleasant, and we were able to drum up a good audience for ‘To the Ocean’. It’s safe to say, however, that we all had favourite members of the audience for this show. The two dogs that came to watch us!

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The beautiful Newton Stewart, thanks for being our home for a couple of days. 

As we left Newton Stewart to return to Anwoth Campsite after the show, there was a palpable feeling in the van that we would all miss the little town that had been our home for the past couple of days. But we were also excited about travelling to our next destination. As I write we sit on the ferry to Ireland and all of the team (apart from Adam) have never had the opportunity to properly explore the country before, so we can’t wait to get there!

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram  to  keep up to date with everything we do on this crazy adventure. And to make sure we haven’t been bitten to death by the midges!