6th-14th December 2014 – Three musical events, an unconvincing ghost, a quiz and some ringing.   Leave a comment



In 1898 HG Wells wrote one of the first science fiction novels, War of the Worlds which depicted the invasion of Earth by Martians, I remember reading the book as a teenager. Of course like all science fiction it is deeply rooted in the values and concepts of the time that it was written (we wouldn’t think today that aliens would only be interested in invading England and that anyone who wanted to escape would merely have to get on a boat to some foreign location) but it remains one of the most enduring examples of the genre. In 1978 Jeff Wayne produced a very successful musical version of the story which he has recently revived as a stage show. We were able to see this excellent show at the BIC in Bournemouth on the 11th.


The show was full of technical wizardry, a band and an orchestra played in front of the huge screen which depicted the narrative, but also players sang and acted out the story on the stage.

IMG_3973 Brian McFadden

The story is narrated by a journalist who is caught up in the Martian invasion, his role is part sung by Brian McFadden ….

IMG_4014 Liam Neeson in WOTW

… and part spoken by a ‘virtual’ Liam Neeson, who appears in this panel over the stage or as a life size hologram on stage which was able to virtually interact with other characters.

IMG_3974 Martians emerge

As the story develops the Martians invade.

IMG_3985 Martian Fighting Machine

A 35ft high Martian fighting machine appears on the stage …

IMG_3988 Martian Fighting Machine

… and proceeds to belch real flames over the audience.

IMG_4009 Beth and Nathaniel in WOTW

One of my favourite parts was the duet between Parson Nathaniel (Jason Donovan) and his wife Beth (Carrie Hope Fletcher) as to whether the invaders are Martians or demons.

IMG_4003 Red Weed

The red weed that HG Wells claims gave Mars its red colour takes over the countryside.

IMG_4012 the Artiliaryman

The infantryman (Shane Ward) claims that the survivors can build cities underground away from the invaders but soon after the Earth’s bacteria kill off the Martians and bring the story to its conclusion (well almost).

IMG_4020 WOTW the cast

Brian McFadden, Joseph Whelan, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Shane Ward and Jason Donovan take a bow. It was a fantastic concert, flawlessly executed with no technical hitches (in spite of the potential difficulty in coordinating so many aspects of the performance) with great performances from musicians and actors alike.

IMG_1312 Gaunt's House concert

In complete contrast on the 13th we went to a dinner and musical performance at Gaunt’s House, a old stately home now run as a spiritual retreat, situated to the north of Wimborne. A very talented pianist played pieces by Schubert and a tenor accompanied him singing pieces by Schumann, Ravel and others. Although beautifully performed these ‘lieders’, short songs sung in German, mean little to me but I did enjoy the Schubert. After the interval we all took part in a carol concert.

IMG_1315 Daphne at Gaunt's House

Our connection with Gaunt’s House is that Daphne, (centre), a fellow member of the Phoenix (formerly Nexus) organisation works there. We joined several Phoenix members and others for a ‘ghost walk’ around the upper corridors and rooms of this extensive house.

IMG_1314 ghost

Although potentially scary in the darkened room, the flash on my camera revealed the ‘ghost’ ……

IMG_1316 ghost

… to be no more than a member of staff in a sheet who managed to run ahead of the tour and hide in each unlit room before the group arrived.

IMG_4027 St Peter's Church

The following day Margaret’s choir performed their Christmas concert at St Peter’s Church in Parkstone.

IMG_4031 orchestra

The Barclay House Choir have a new conductor/musical director Helen Brind and I was pleased to see that she maintained the high standard of her predecessor. Margaret is on the left of the next to top row, my old work colleague Ann Hitchcoe is to her right and our friend Christine third from the left on the front row. The orchestra is led by Andrew Foot.

IMG_4036 Abbi Temple

Soloist soprano Abbi Temple had a wonderful voice.

IMG_1297 quiz night

Spot the birder! L-R Mark Constantine, Trevor Warwick, Tom Carly, Jackie Hull (Nick joined us later), Shaun Robson, Mo Constantine, Mike Gould, Marcus Lawson, Richard Webb, Nick Hopper, Bob Gifford, Ewan Brodie, Terry Elborne, Roger Howell, Steve W Smith and me. Years ago I used to set pretty difficult bird quizzes for the Dorset Bird Club, fortunately the baton has been taken up by Paul Morton who set a really challenging quiz on the 8th December. We all lined up to be randomly selected into teams. I must admit our team didn’t do well (my excuse was that I was still suffering jet lag) but what really let us down was a round of bird name anagrams, I have to admit that my mind just doesn’t ‘do’ anagrams and that seemed to apply to all my team.

IMG_1294 Margaret at quiz night

Thanks were due not only to Paul but also for Mark and Mo Constantine who made LUSH digital centre available for the quiz. Margaret opted not to be in a quiz and relaxed in the corner.

IMG_1317 Woodpigeon

With some new traps I have been doing a bit of ringing in the garden, this Woodpigeon was an unexpected catch – and quite a handful too.

IMG_1308 Rock Pipit

But the best ringing took place on 13th at Lytchett Bay where we caught an interesting variety of birds including this Rock Pipit. Following the Shaun’s capture a Belgian ringed Rock Pipit recently (we are awaiting details of where and when it as ringed) we have decided to renew our efforts to trap Rock Pipits, particularly as we think that those wintering on the saltmarsh may be of the Scandinavian race littoralis. We also ringed a Stonechat, several Meadow Pipits, Reed Buntings, Cettis’ Warblers and Chiffchaffs ….

IMG_1302 beardies

… and also these gorgeous Bearded Tits.

IMG_1303 beardie

Of all the birds we ring, the male Bearded Tit has to be one of the most beautiful. Being a scarce bird that it is somewhat irruptive and nomadic ringing ‘beardies’ is very worthwhile as previous long distance movements have shown. I mentioned earlier that I had two new trainees, Rik and Ginny, they have been joined by a third, Emma. With three people to train I shall attempt to put even more effort into my ringing activities in 2015.

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