Sunday, 13 October 2013

Fun in Loughborough

Over the last 10 weeks I’ve been blogging about a variety of things relevant to Lufbra – shopping, local initiatives, local places of interest, local people and more – so today I shall turn my attention to a number of local events that I have recently attended, which were certainly interesting!

Play in the park

The bandstand in Queen's Park

One of my blogposts was about Queen’s Park, and it was here, a fortnight ago, that I spent a very happy couple of hours. I often find myself walking through the park, either on my way into town or to the library, or just because I fancy doing so, but never after dusk when the park is closed! However, this particular evening some of us snuck in, after hours! All legal and above board – just in case you were wondering!

The bandstand adorned!
Imagine the park, if you will, with 1930s music playing from a gazebo, lights shining out from the café, fairy lights adorning and twinkling around the bandstand, and sofas, scattered with cushions, placed around it. Suddenly, the sound of car engines, distant at first, gradually getting louder until the vintage special rolled up to one side of the bandstand, and a 1970s hotrod raced up to the other side! And just as the cars arrived the French maid, who’d been swigging wine from a bottle, rushed to retrieve her shoes from the bushes and smooth down her hair and apron, before beating a hasty retreat from the bandstand!

This was the opening scene of Noel Coward’s “Private Lives”, a play based around the marriages of four characters, who were all spending their honeymoon in Paris, and unbeknownst to them are staying in adjoining rooms to their former spouses! The actors were students from Loughborough University, part of a group called the “English and Drama Theatre Company”, and they did a wonderful job of bringing Coward’s characters to life – and some!!

Warned to bring blankets – and not to bring alcohol – the audience were treated to chairs gathered around the bandstand, and cocktails were available from the café! Although this was late September, the weather was very mild, and with the silhouette of the Carillon in the background, the atmosphere was, well, nothing less than electric!

The actors and the audience
This was a truly remarkable event which brought “town and gown” together in a collaboration that made fantastic use of a remarkable setting that is normally only accessible in the daytime. For me, it was great not to have to travel miles to an outdoor play – although, perhaps Queen’s Park doesn’t quite have the setting of the Minack! The production was part of the Fab Friday initiative that I believe came about as a result of Mary Portas’s visit to the town, but I’m really hoping that this wasn’t a one-off event.

Charnwood roots

Last Saturday saw me in Leicester attending the Charnwood Roots project meeting. This initiative is all about updating the Victoria County History series of books, and the Leicestershire volume(s) had not been updated for a very long time. The area that was being focussed on was Charnwood Forest, which included about 35 towns and villages in Leicestershire, which included Loughborough, Hathern, Mountsorrel, and Barrow. The aim of the project seems to be to do research in local archives, take part in an archaeological dig, be involved in making a record of oral history, do some field-walking and various other things in order to update the history. The whole process is being led by staff at Leicester University and is going to take a couple of years to complete. After the introduction to the project, a member of the team talked about his visit to California where he was able to personally consult the Hastings papers: This archival material, pertaining to Loughborough, some of which goes back to Medieval times, was sold many years ago, and deposited and preserved by the Huntington Library in San Marino, for future use. Some of the material was digitised in the very early days of digitisation, but, as the lecturer enthused, there’s nothing quite like being able to handle the original documents! As I said, the project will be going on for a couple of years, and at the end of the presentations we were invited to sign up to take part in any, some, or all of the proposed activities: I can’t wait to get going!


That same evening, I made my way to our own university to join some new friends at the first meeting of the year of the Loughborough Archaeological and Historical Society. The presentation that evening was given by Peter Liddle, former Leicestershire County Archaeologist. My knowledge of monastic buildings was quite scant, but by the time Peter had described the 15 or so abbeys in Leicestershire and the evidence that the archaeology had brought to light, I definitely had much more of an idea about the archaeology and the history, and picked up a few pointers to some possible future research I could do myself.

Laughter in the library

The Carnegie Library

Last Thursday saw the birthday of my youngest child. His elder two siblings have gone off to university, so he was left at home to celebrate the occasion with his mum and dad! After a great meal at the Cactus Café, we went off to Laughter in the Library, a couple of hours of stand-up comedy. Again, great to see a space that’s not normally open until 11pm being used after-hours!

The Organ Grinder
The library has recently been re-furbished, and the taller shelving units replaced with lower shelving units on castors. This meant that a flexible space could be created by moving the units around. The use of a café-style table layout, complete with strings of fairy lights, helped make for an enjoyable experience. Even more surreal was the fact that there was also a bar run by the folk from the Packe Horse  Organ Grinder: They did quite a good trade! The acts were really quite good, and much mention was made of the fact that we were in the local library, especially by the compere. The days of libraries being run by ladies with buns, shushing people and throwing them out for eating and drinking in the building has well and truly passed!


  1. I wish I'd managed to get to the play in the park, now. It sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience of it.

    1. You'd have loved it! Sooo atmospheric adn such good acting too. And, of course, lovely to experience Queen's Park after dark!


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