With only a few weeks left on the Annie Get Your Gun tour, there's a heady sense of excitement in the air, not least because we're finally properly hitting the beach! This week we've been in the beautiful town of Bournemouth, something of a delicious gem as far as I'm concerned and home to many wonderful surprises during our time here.
There's something thoroughly invigorating about the seaside. Maybe it's the sea air, the proximity to nothingness over the ocean or simply the fact that there's a general sense of holiday which pervades over everyone, whether they're actually on holiday or not. We've been fortunate with the weather too, glorious sunshine and dry days which have made for a nicely sun-pinked company. There has still been the need to wrap up though as the winds of Bournemouth can be pretty wick, particularly late at night. This is England after all!
As the only week of the tour where we've not had three matinees, nor understudy rehearsals, there's been plenty of time for social activities. Coupled with the fact that most of the company have been staying in the same hotel - a somewhat Fawlty Towers affair apparently - you'd be forgiven in thinking that we'd be sick of each other by now! Not so, with the midweek matinee done and dusted we hit the beach for a late night barbecue party that evening and followed it up with a sports day afternoon on the Thursday!
Splitting into teams of four, denoted by that kit box staple of any decent stage management member - coloured electrical tape, we raced around a long stretch of sandy beach recreating the sports days of our childhoods. There were valiant efforts made all round at the sandy sprint, the wheelbarrow, three-legged and egg & spoon race (with the spoon in the mouth - a first for me!) amongst others. Our taller members also proved incredibly adept at the standing long jump, although Ste's forward handspring attempt proved most hilarious of all, if not particularly successful.
Races completed and points totted up, the Red team of Iffy, Lisa, Jordan and Ste were declared the winners and presented with their trophies. As is only appropriate ice cream followed and then games of rounders and football, before a dip in the warm-for-England-but-still-blooming-freezing sea. That evening's show was sponsored by far too much fun and a healthy dollop of aftersun to boot!
Fun and games aside there's also been some exploring time. My personal find of the week was a little cafe a short distance out of the town centre called Frieda's Tearooms. I've been staying a mile or so away from the theatre and on one of my many walks in I decided to search for Bournemouth's Best Breakfast and this is where Tinternet lead me. They weren't kidding. A gorgeous boutique place in itself, the eponymous Frieda served up the most wonderful full English for me, followed by a decadently indulgent hot chocolate with all the trimmings - including Maltesers! Certainly a must for any visitor - I'm only sorry I didn't have room for cake too!
I'd also recommend a visit to the gardens that run alongside the theatre. The beautiful River Bourne trundles through them and on most afternoons there appeared to be a band of some sort playing on the bandstand there. It was all rather like stepping back in time. Listening to the strains of Cole Porter and Gershwin from my blanket on the green, it was just nice to take the time to stop for a while. Completely and utterly stop. Turn off the technology, ignore the world and take a deep breath of calmness. It was a little unnerving however when the brass band began playing what felt like a potted musical history of my career, beginning with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!
Saturday sadly saw the final shows for our lovely Alternate Frank, Jonathan Wilkes. He's been an amazing part of the show and it feels weird that he's now hung up his holster. It also highlights that there are only three weeks left on this tour and the reality of unemployment, and leaving behind this incredible company, is approaching with painfully dizzying speed. Better make the most of it - bring on Brighton and Beach Week 2!