Dressing Room 1, 19th August

Thrupp Canal Cruising Club

Mick was up early to get the car back into Oxford. This gave me space to get the scanner and my panto model out. Bits were measured, cloths were scanned, then everything packed into an Ikea big blue bag, time for the final panto model meeting.

Waiting at the bus stop

I walked down the canal towards Oxford, the reverse route I’d walked three years ago after painting the floor for panto until the early hours, returning to Oleanna and canal life for a weekend. The 7 bus took me to Blenheim Palace where I swapped it for an S3 which rattled it’s way along the country roads to Chipping Norton.

At the theatre I was greeted by Box Office who arranged for someone to come and help me. Hand sanitizer, masks, only two people in the green room at any time, most social distancing measures still in action around the building.

The Dames dressing room, once Jo and I have vacated

Gavin and Ash were about to help me set up for the model showing. The three of us would be the only people at the meeting in the theatre, everyone else would be dotted around the country on Zoom, well even Gavin and Ash were in their office and I had Dressing Room 1 all to myself.

I am so glad that David had got to see the model last week as he could carry on talking about the detail that’s impossible to see via my phone or on the storyboard. Showing a model on zoom I had two choices, line the model up with the camera on the laptop I’d been loaned or use my phone as a hand held camera. I chose the later option, not sure which would have been better really as panto world kept turning upside down and being wonky. Oh well!

2 zooms from one room

My audience seemed to be appreciative. Other logistics were talked about. They are trying to find somewhere in Chippy for me to paint the week before rehearsals start, so far no luck, but the hunt continues. Fingers crossed for somewhere reasonably dry and warm with electric.

Chippy auditorium

Samples were checked over with the hope that some materials can be ordered this week for me to pick up on route next week. The model was packed carefully away, cloths separated ready to be sent to the scenic printers.

Paint stocks needed checking over. Thankfully I was the last to use most of the scenic paints so two years ago the lids had been put on properly, only a few pots had dried up.

4m ribbons

Then measurements and double checking various things in the auditorium. This is when we came across a problem. During the run of panto the cinema screen will be used to show films. The screen drops in and nobody, including myself, had picked up on the fact that the metal bar at the bottom of the screen is wider than the screen itself. The cinema is usually set up by one chap who would not be able to page the screen around Rapunzel’s tower. Oh bugger! We may have to build slots into the structures to accommodate the screen. Oh for having a production manager on site to talk these things over with before they go and see the set builders. Numerous photos and some measurements were taken. I thought my work was just about done, now I need to do some sketches to help explain the problem!


Time was ticking and with only one bus an hour I was keen to catch the next one, so left Gavin to take the model box to the post office to be sent to the Production Manager. Fingers crossed it arrives safely.

I hope Agatha was correct

Two buses back and a walk along the canal in sunshine, only for the heavens to open just as Mick was setting off to meet our Sainsburys delivery. At least the rain encouraged Tilly to come home after being out all day. Tonight’s dinner was beetroot, leek and chard risotto, everything apart from the Arborio rice came in our veg box. I wonder what the onions are going to taste like? They are fresh and haven’t developed the orange skins yet, will they have a milder flavour or stronger?

Red risotto

Mick during the day has been busy washing clothes and topping up the water tank. He’s also been trying to see if there is a route north we could take after I finish panto without us being held up by stoppages. This is still work in progress, but Varneys Lock 23 (Oxford Canal) closes on the 1st of November so we’d have to be through there before hand making a trip back to Oleanna a near three hour journey from Chippy! So far it’s not looking good for me to commute from the boat at weekends.

0 locks, 0 miles, 5 buses, 1 car returned, 3 loads washing, 1 wobbly upside down model box showing, 1 model box on it’s way, 3 cloths, bar 17, 4m out dead confirmed, 4m ribbons, 1 overlooked projection screen, 11 hours shore leave, 2 beetroot grated, 3 left, 1st November, 8th November, 19th November!