Unfortunately not me personally in spite of my recent holiday on Anglesey being all-too-brief, but Summer Holiday was the latest musical production performed at the local town centre theatre, The Octagon. At almost 51 years old the Octagon Theatre was the brainchild of a local university lecturer (whose son, coincidentally, was in my class at grammar school) and was officially opened in late November 1967 by Princess Margaret. Although the theatre management at the time had been advised that there would be no need to provide any type of ‘comfort facility’ for the royal party they went ahead anyway and installed a very lavish loo with gold plated fittings. Having only been used by the plumbers who needed to test it, following the official opening of the theatre it was completely stripped out and turned into an office space.
Vastly different from a normal theatre the stage is actually hexagonal in shape with seating on all sides, and both the stage and the seating can be adapted to suit each individual production; it was given the name of The Octagon to avoid confusion with an existing Hexagon Theatre in Reading. Many well-known performers have appeared at the theatre over the years including Sue Johnston and John McArdle of Brookside fame, Emmerdale regulars Emma Atkins and Jeff Hordley, Michelle Collins, Tim Healey and Matthew Kelly, and local comedian Peter Kay once worked in the ticket office there.
Back in early 1974 one of my cats, Sandy, was used as the family cat in a 4-week production of The Diary of Anne Frank. A taxi would collect me and Sandy from home and take us to the theatre for each performance then take us home again afterwards, I could have a meal in the theatre restaurant each night, I got complimentary tickets for my family to see the play and Sandy got ‘paid’ with a tin of Whiskas cat food every night – all courtesy of the theatre’s director. Fast forward several years and while Michael was at secondary school in the late 1980s he appeared at The Octagon in a school production of Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War Of The Worlds.
The production of Summer Holiday was different in that there was a lot of audience participation and it actually started off on the concourse of the local bus station where a large area had been cordoned off and some of the cast were singing and dancing, then to the tune of Summer Holiday all the audience boarded six double-decker buses where the entertainment continued while they drove round to the square in front of the town hall where another part of the show was performed. Unfortunately I missed most of the singing and dancing at the bus station but I got a couple of shots of everyone boarding the buses then walked through town to take up a convenient position by the barriers in the square.
There were six buses in total and once they’d all arrived the audience all got off again to watch the next part of the show. Unfortunately my view of anything at street level was rather obscured by some of the audience who had formed a semi-circle but once the actors started singing and dancing on the town hall steps I was able to get a few shots, although I couldn’t hear what they were actually saying or singing. With that part of the show over the audience all walked to the theatre, which was just round the corner from the town hall, for the rest of the show which finished at 4.30pm.
Although I’ve watched and enjoyed the Cliff Richard film several times over the years I have to admit that this show isn’t one I would have particularly wanted to go to, although it’s had lots of rave reviews in the press. Personally I think a red Routemaster bus would have added a bit more authenticity to the proceedings but then I don’t suppose those things are easy to come by outside of London now.
Tonight’s performance will be the last at The Octagon for quite a while as the theatre is now closing for major expansion and refurbishment and won’t reopen until autumn 2019, though the theatre company will still be performing various shows and plays at other venues within the town. Although I wouldn’t have wanted to see the whole of the Summer Holiday show I’m glad I was able to get photos of the bits I did see – it certainly brightened up a very ordinary Saturday afternoon.
On Tuesday evening this week I arrived back home after a short almost-six-days holiday on Anglesey. I’d actually booked seven days off work and with two weekends I should have had eleven days starting on the first Saturday of the month, but circumstances beyond my control kept me at home for the first few days. I finally set off for Anglesey late last Thursday morning, with the recent good weather staying with me all the way from home, and once at the site, which was very quiet, I was able to set up camp in near enough the same place as last year. Having had no opportunity to open out and dry my new tent, which had been packed away very damp at Easter, I was dreading what I might find so I’d packed my spare green one ‘just in case’ and set up the van to sleep in but I needn’t have worried – although quite a bit of moisture had got trapped between the plastic windows and the blinds the rest of the tent was fine and surprisingly there wasn’t a mark on it anywhere. After a quick wipe over the moisture on the windows soon disappeared in the hot sunshine and the tent served me well over the next few days.
Day 2 arrived sunny and warm again so I decided to have my ‘big day out’ off the island and set off late morning for Llanberis, just over 18 miles away on the mainland. Ages ago a cafe in Llanberis had been recommended to me as a good place to get a meal so I decided to try it and I wasn’t disappointed – I opted for a cheese and onion toastie and it came absolutely oozing with filling and with a salad garnish, and Sophie and Poppie even got a treat of a sausage each. Unfortunately not long afterwards the sky clouded over and the sun played a good game of hide-and-seek but it didn’t spoil the afternoon too much and I still walked right along the lake side to the slate museum and back. When I got back to Anglesey I found the sun and blue sky were just as bright as when I left so with hindsight maybe I should have stayed on the island.
Day 3 was another hot and sunny one and after starting off at the car boot sale just outside the village I made a return visit to Portobello beach in Dulas Bay, which I first went to last year. This time though I went when the tide was going out and almost at its lowest so there was no danger of getting cut off on the riverside like I did before. From the beach I drove into Llangefni and parked up at Asda then took the dogs for a walk through The Dingle nature reserve and up to Cefni reservoir and back, and it was when I was approaching Asda from the entrance to The Dingle that I noticed an old windmill with a strange top, on a rocky outcrop above and just beyond the store. Of all the times I’ve been to Llangefni I’ve never noticed that before so I just had to find it and photograph it.
Day 4 started off at the big car boot sale on the Anglesey show ground then from there I went over to Rhosneigr in search of Sausage Castle. Not actually a castle but a large house with castellated walls – real name Surf Point Villa – it was built next to the beach in the early 1900s by Charles Palethorpe, a member of the famous pork butchery family, and soon became known as Sausage Castle. A short walk along the beach soon found it and from there I continued along the sand to where the Afon Crigyll flowed out across the beach.