Embroidered honeysuckle on a denim pinafore to tempt a 4 year old

A six day week in London meant travelling home on Sunday.  England had lifted many of its remaining Covid restrictions on Monday the 19th and the contrast between my usual journey home on a Friday with the old restrictions and that on Sunday couldn’t have been greater. To be fair, Sunday travel is always more disruptive as engineering work tends to be done at the weekend. There also tends to be no through train to Cheltenham on a Sunday, though curiously the single change at Swindon on the timetable makes the journey no longer than staying on the one train all the way. Fortunately I got to the station in good time and easily found a seat on an already full train – we are back to sitting next to other people now, gone is the luxury of a double seat for just one person. Bound for Paignton and holiday destinations, a previous cancellation of a train to the English Rivière meant double the passengers. Seat bookings were cancelled and it became a case of first come, first served until people stood, in surprisingly good humour, jammed shoulder to shoulder in the corridor between the seats and in the vestibules between the carriages. I was glad the GWR are still insisting on face coverings.

Honeysuckle embroidery on a denim pinafore (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

The beginning of the week was so warm and mild, the smallest person wore only her leotard, thin ballet skirt  and no tights for the brief bus journey to her ballet lesson. Early, we wandered through to the little cobbled area running along Dagmar Passage on which the Little Angel Theatre  stands. Alongside the theatre is the puppet workshop and in the window there were a handful of puppets, slumped in that peculiarly puppet like way as if relaxing from a hard day’s work. Most were puppets of birds or little animals but one, much bigger, stood alone. “That’s Farmer George”, my companion announced confidently. “Can you tell me a story about him?” “Oh I think you tell much better stories than me”, said the uninspired granny. And off she went. “Farmer George wanted a puppet. One morning, he woke up and took delivery of a parcel from the postman. He opened it and there was a puppet. But he wanted another puppet … and  … “(I think there was something about death – there usually is at the moment in her stories). But before the story could advance much further, a figure appeared from the other end of the workshop, said hello to us,  listened to the smallest persons retelling of the beginning of her story and then disappeared into the depths of the workshop. Back she came walking a puppet with her to the door, her latest (and possibly unfinished creation ), a boy with a shiny apple-cheeked face and spiky green hair. As we talked about how she carved the puppets from wood with a chisel, the puppet moved his head in an unobtrusive, intelligent way as if listening to our conversation. Suddenly weary, he lowered himself on to the woman’s bare foot, turned to examine his seat and then very gently stroked her toes.  We were won over completely – there with no theatre lights, no music or special effects, the little puppet had captured us in his own wordless world. A lovely experience for a granny, how wonderful was that for a 4 year old. Further along the passage a door opened and the ballet teacher beckoned us. The smallest person was in for another pleasant  surprise. Everyone else in her class was away on holiday, so she had a ballet class all to herself. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that!

Honeysuckle embroidery on a denim pinafore (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

I returned to the workshop door, chatted a little more with the woman and asked her her name. She, Lyndie Wright  had set up the Little Angel Theatre long ago in 1961 with her husband John in a tiny dilapidated building, a former Temperance Hall. Along with the hall came the workshop next door and a cottage, one along from the workshop. Her two children were brought up  immersed in the theatre so it was no surprise when both became involved in theatre and film. My brain was working slowly that afternoon and it was only when I got home and did a bit of internet searching that I discovered how very eminent Lyndie Wright MBE is. (Her husband John died in 1991.) She no longer does much for The Little Angel Theatre any more but is involved with making puppets for The Puppet Theatre Barge, moored in Little Venice and has just been working on  sets for something at The National Theatre, where her daughter Sarah is the artistic director of The Curious School of Puppetry. The son, Joe Wright (Films: Pride and Prejudice, 2005; Atonement, 2007; Darkest Hour, 2017. The TV serial Charles II: The Power and the Passion with Rufus Sewell) is pretty eminent too. For more about Lyndie Wright, Puppeteer, do read this post in Spitalfields Life – the photographs are a joy in themselves.

Honeysuckle embroidery on a denim pinafore (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Yesterday my train left a still sunny London and wove its calm way across a landscape of high summer with tall dry yellowing grass edging the track looking like it hadn’t had a good shower in weeks. Afternoon and evening were fine too,  so I was really shocked to read of thunderstorms and flash flooding causing ribbons of chaos across parts of the London I had not so long ago left. Daughter No 1 in London feared whether the drains could take the downpour and my son-in-law went out in the thick of it to clear potential blockages where he could. Now it’s Monday early afternoon and Cheltenham  is still sunny with the temperature climbing to the levels we experienced in London though most of the previous week. The local nature of English weather never ceases to amaze.

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  1. Posted July 27, 2021 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    An American friend of my father’s, bemused by an outing into Wales over the Horseshoe Pass that started in rain, continued with snow, and ended in brilliant sunshine, declared that he now knew why the British talk about the weather – “it’s because you get so much of it!”.

    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 27, 2021 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      I know the Horseshoe Pass well – we’d go via it on the A5 through Llangollen into Ruthin where my ex-mother-in-law lives and I think we had a similar experience. A propos of nothing really, at the top of the pass sits/sat the rather glamorously named Ponderosa Café whose history was rather less than glamorous – which was a pity.

      • Posted August 2, 2021 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I’ve never driven past without wishing that it lived up to the setting!

  2. ceci
    Posted July 31, 2021 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Your honeysuckles are so magical! And I really enjoyed your recent post about Grandson’s car fascination -my nephew, many years ago at about age 4, got interested in vintage military planes and loved nothing more than cornering some hapless victim to look at pictures in a book he had found. After a particularly painful session where I kept having to admit I didn’t know some fact he was longing to find out he kindly patted my hand and said “I bet you are better with tanks”. I didn’t say a thing.

    Warm regards,


    • Mary Addison
      Posted July 31, 2021 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      Well it’s the devil and the deep blue sea at the moment as with my grandson its cars (and military vehicles, including tanks, destroyers, fighter planes and helicopters after I produced a shoe box full of my son’d Micro Machines of 30 years ago) while with my granddaughter it’s princesses of the most Disneyish ppersuasion. We swing between regarding one worse than the other and live in hope that turning a blind eye to their current enjoyment of both will be better in the long run than forbidding their obvious fascination for the time being.

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