July sees in HADCAF (short for Hungerford and District Community Arts Festival). http://www.hadcaf.co.uk/2006/pages/2006programme.summary.htm For a small town (Hungerford is not much bigger than a village) this takes a lot of beating in the quality of contributors. People throw open their gardens, Performers come from all over to play/sing/act/racont in the Croft Hall (seats about 100 max) St. Lawrences’s Church and other venues. This year the quality of HADCAF was exceptional. Internationally-renowned pianist Jill Crossland played a concert featuring Glenn Gould, Mozart, Schumann and Debussy, which left my hands sore with clapping. And two weeks later young Lithuanian, Martyna Jatkauskaite played over an hour of Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Prokofiev which gave Norman tears. She is also a very beautiful young lady. We had a great laugh with the Unsinkable Clerk.
On the 8th, Macmillan put on its annual Music and Fireworks with the South Berks Concert Band in the grounds of St. Gabriel’s School, just south of Newbury. We took a party of 10 friends and picnicked on the lawn. The weather was bitterly cold for the time of year but a great time was had by all and ending with a superb firework display musicked by Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds and a fiery Macmillan’s logo at the end. Fireworks are so expensive these days and it is all over too soon. As we drove out of the car park it started to rain.
On the 23rd, we went to Lechlade to have lunch with old friend, Dora Gurnett and Dave. I have known Dora for over twenty years and our kids went to the same school. At on the 27th we went down to Devon to visit Gill and Graham Giles at their hotel just outside Hatherleigh, near Okehampton, (www.presslandhouse.co.uk). On the way we stopped off at Buckfast Abbey which is beautiful, especially as the Monks built it themselves in the first third of the 20th Century. The gardens are lovely, although not as lovely as the Lost Gardens of Heligan (www.heligan.com) where we went the next day. Gill is a great chef and we were thoroughly spoilt for both days. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area.