Herman, Hades, and Griffin have been busy rehearsing their act for this summer's show 'The Thunders'. This is, of course, Hades and Griffin's first show, and by the smile on Daniel Cesar's face, our Head Trainer, they are doing a good job! They are a fantastic team, and we are thrilled to be having two sets of dogs in our show this year, with our beautiful Dalmatians, Tarquin and Domino, being as playful in the ring as ever. We cannot wait for you to see their spectacular feats.
Nancy has arrived this week, bringing with her George, David and their beautiful doves. Both George and David have a wealth of experience in training animals: David has been training birds for 35 years and George has been training for 57 years, so we know we are in excellent hands. Speaking of hands, Nancy certainly has hers full with these birds, but the doves seem just as taken with her as she is with them.
The sun is bright, the clear blue sky is peppered with the whispy spouts of clouds, there is a spring in everyone’s step and the tent is up! Well done to the exceptional team on the ground, what a beautiful job they've done.
Now that the tent is up, the action begins. The animals department are the first into full swing, getting the dogs and the horses familiar with the space once again - it'll be the first time Hades and Griffin have been in the tent. They are going to love it!
The Farm is filling up with new arrivals by the day: our wonderful jugglers Bibi and Bichu are on their way as we speak, Nancy will be with us the week after, and we've got wagons springing up left, right, and centre. The reunion of old friends with the introduction of new faces: an exciting time for all at Giffords.
Well it’s been a little while since the last blog – all stations have been go, as always, here at Giffords.
One of the big pre-rehearsal jobs every year is the great wagon re-vamp. With a long tour season like ours even the sturdiest wagon needs a bit of a tweak after all the shaking and dust kicked up down those lovely winding country roads. So our wagons are having some work to bring them up to date before we set off once again - if we’re lucky a van will just need a quick coat of paint, if we’re unlucky it’ll need completely stripping and re-fitting. For instance, I’ve heard the floor of one of showers referred to as being in a “spongy” condition, which is probably not the ideal word for a shower floor. But the re-fittings are under way, and so far so good.
Elsewhere, preparations for the Circus Sauce Restaurant are going well. We’ve been working alongside Silver Ball PR for a new press release for the restaurant, which you should keep and eye out for, and in the near future we’ll be reworking the Restaurant page on the website and giving it the attention it deserves. Ollie, our head chef, has begun to build the menu, and you may even have noticed on instagram that the office got to sample some delicious ice cream. Well, they deserve a break every now and then I suppose.
Ollie is also busy brainstorming for this year’s puppet show, though he has yet to find the perfect food themed song to go along with his team of chefs cullinary skills. If this doesn’t make the slightest of sense to you, take a look at this and all will become clear.
The main item of last week was the Production Meeting, which went very successfully, and was pretty short in comparison to most (about 4 hours all in all, but with lunch of course). We have a great team once again, and everyone is super on task and clued in to what needs to be done. Obviously I can’t give any of the details away, but it’s always exciting when you start to hear how all the ideas are going to come together. One of the most satisfying things about production meetings is that by getting everyone in one room the biggest of problems are soon solved, and it is always satisfying when a simple, inventive solution is found.
And to finish things off, ‘The Thunders’ Tour leaflets have arrived! We are very happy with them, they look fantastic, and we’ve worked hard to make sure they really encapsulate the show. I can’t wait for you to see them, and they should already be starting to appear around the Cotswolds and beyond.
Apologies for the lack of dog news this week, I’ll be sure to give a little re-cap of their adventures soon. Here, at least, is a picture of Tarquin and Griffin enjoying the sunshine.
Busy busy busy. Dog walking, dog training, horse training, photo shoots, paintings, meetings; it is that time of year again! Before you know it the tent will be going up for rehearsals, and in another blink of an eye we'll be on tour.
Hades and Griffin have been with us for almost two months now and it is great to be able to look back and see their progress. They have been made leaps and bounds (literally and figuratively!) in training and the twice daily walks on top of that have certainly kept them strong and energetic. It is lovely seeing them run along together as a little pack, and they are becoming quite the family.
This week we have been working on our annual mailer in preparation for the show. We have had the exceptionally talented hair and make-up artist Tabitha James Kraan in for our photoshoot and, as always, she has done a wonderful job. We’ve had Louisa in the Art Department and her helping hands painting clouds on one of our backdrops, and the end results of the shoot look fantastic; we can’t wait for you to see them. Finishing touches will be put to the mailer by the second week of March or so, so keep your eyes on your letter boxes for the final product at the end of March and all will be revealed.
And the Ted Baker ZolTED campaign is underway, take a look here .
Busy busy busy. Dog walking, dog training, horse training, photo shoots, paintings, meetings; it is that time of year again! Before you know it the tent will be going up for rehearsals, and in another blink of an eye we'll be
Hades and Griffin have been with us for almost two months now and it is great to be able to look back and see their progress. They have been made leaps and bounds (literally and figuratively!) in training and the twice daily walks on top of that have certainly kept them strong and energetic. It is lovely seeing them run along together as a little pack, and they are becoming quite the family
This week we have been working on our annual mailer in preparation for the show. We have had the exceptionally talented hair and make-up artist Tabitha James Kraan in for our photoshoot and, as always, she has done a wonderful job. We’ve had Louisa in the Art Department and her helping hands painting clouds on one of our backdrops, and the end results of the shoot look fantastic; we can’t wait for you to see them. Finishing touches will be put to the mailer by the second week of March or so, so keep your eyes on your letter boxes for the final product at the end of March and all will be revealed. And the Ted Baker ZolTED campaign is underway, take a look he
Ted Baker came back to visit us at Folly Farm last week to film another bit of footage with us, which meant Bibi and Bichu were back doing what they do best - juggling - not with clubs, but with Ted Baker shoes! Also the Ted Baker Spring/Summer '14 promotional video was released over the weekend, which was filmed while we were in Cirencester last year and includes some familiar Giffords faces; see if you can spot some. And finally, our very own Brian the Goose was spotted in the shop window of the Ted Baker shop in Liverpool. What a star eh?!
It's amazing to see the Giffords Circus Sauce restaurant wagon be completely stripped and rebuilt from scratch in preperation for "The Thunders" summer tour this year. So far the boys have managed to gut the inside completely, re-shape, re-wire, paint and fit the units for where the new equipment will be placed. There are big plans for our restaurant this year which we are all very excited about - and you should be too! Here are some updated pictures of the latest progress:
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Circus Sauce is our travelling restaurant where you can have a four course feast under the stars after the show. We’ve got candles, oak tables, tapestries, baskets of warm bread, the finest local produce and foraged food from wherever we pitch up, and, of course, the best of company.
For those of you who don’t know, the one on the left is our head chef, Ollie, with sous-chef Adam. The multi-talented chefs are experienced in cooking delicious meals and providing critically acclaimed bespoke entertainment. The Circus Sauce team round off a night with Giffords to make for a magical and unique evening in the British countryside.
Check out their facebook page here.
We have won Bronze in the Tourism Experience of the Year of The Cotswolds Tourism Awards 2014! Take a look at their website for the full listings. Thanks Everyone!
One of our newest additions Hades came to visit Kelly and Tessa in the office this morning. After all the attention and snuggles he then decided to overlook the horse rehearsals until it was time for a nice lie down in front of the fire! We send our thanks to the wonderful Birmingham Dogs Home for letting us give both Hades and Griffin an exciting new life!
all four circus dogs for a massive walk on the ridgeway on Saturday. They loved running free together- we did about five miles with them!
This year Giffords Circus will not be travelling to Broadway, Worcestershire with 'THE THUNDERS'. We will, however, be opening the season at Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe 23rd - 27th May, which is very close to Broadway - please come and see us there! To book tickets please call the Box Office on 0845 459 7469.
To introduce two bouncy additions to the circus - Hades and Griffin! Like our Dalmatians, Domino and Tarquin, they are rescued strays from a Dogs Home in Birmingham. Hades and Griffin had been on the streets before they were taken in to the Dogs Home in Birmingham, where they were looked after for a few months whilst they waited for the prospect of a new home - and when we spotted them we knew we were the ones to have them. We are absoluted delighted with how they are fitting in at Folly Farm, and it is a joy to see Hades and Griffin running out and about in the Cotswolds air on their daily walks, and socialising with the Dalmatians. They are both full of character and enthusiasm, and we look forward to seeing them grow with us. How could anyone have let them go?! Lucky Giffords!
We were so happy that Bibi and Bichu got to perform at the Christmas lights switch on at Selfridges on Oxford Street this week! Not long now until we make our way to Selfridge's for our month long Christmas takeover. Check out this wonderful picture of the boys in action...
At the Barrington Christmas Bazaar on the 23rd November! Some of our glamorous front of house team will be there selling Giffords goodies
We now have an Instagram page! Follow us for images of all the updates and developments for next year's show "The Thunders": A Greek mythology inspired production with exciting new acts, music and much more!
We will be at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford from the 7th October telling you all about the themes and designs of our puppets from our show Lucky 13. It's free, runs until the 17th November and will be a great way to spend the Bank Holiday Monday!
Tarquin and Domino are happy to be home!
Thank you to everyone who came to see Lucky 13 this summer, we are forever grateful for all your support. We have had an amazing season and we hope that you all enjoyed sharing the magic and laughter of the show with us. Now it's time to start getting excited for next year, so keep your eyes peeled for updates,pictures and more over the winter!
If you want to learn more and keep up to date with our new dogs Tarquin and Domino then you can follow their circus adventures on their very on Facebook page!
Lucky 13 is now in it's final week, and what a season it's been! To make sure you don't miss out on our last four days ring our Box Office on 0845 459 7469 and come and join us for some fun and magic!
A great picture of Tarquin taking his new human friends out for a coffee!
What a beautiful circus scene!
Mechanic with welding and fabricating skills. Please call Toti on 07884258698 or send cv to email@example.com. Thank you!
Thank you to the wonderful Rebecca Townsend for standing in for Nell on a few shows - we love you!
Our new circus dog Domino out for a run at Marlborough - he's in training with his friend Tarquin for 2014 show!
16.1 PBID 4 year old mare. Carefully and expertly broken and brought on. Two seasons with Giffords Circus jumping a dining room table and about to start autumn hunting. Sound and viceless £5000. Contact Nell on 07789 395184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
7 Year Old Ardennes Gelding. Used for equine vaulting or forestry. Quiet, kind and well handled. Sound and regularly wormed and in good health. £4000. Please call Nell on 07789 395184.
Thankyou to everyone who sent CV for the technical assistant vacancy. The post is now closed.
New job opportunity
I am looking for an enthusiastic and energetic aupair / nanny's help/ French tutor for the season 2013, May - September. Please send CV and references to email@example.com
Trip to London Aquarium with godfather Bichu!
There are some exciting new vacancies at Giffords Circus!
We need a full time touring assistant technical manager. The right person will also assist the directors during rehearsal and Nell on tour, with an emphasis on production and looking after guests to the circus.
We are looking for a financial accountant, full time, based at Folly Farm
And we are also looking for a full time costume administrator / delivery person, based at Folly Farm.
Please send your Cvs to firstname.lastname@example.org
Cecil - tractor man
Red - supervising!
Red and cecil with their French cousins
Happy 90th Birthday Maman
Very switched on capable non smoking person with a clean driving license wanted to work full time for us from our headquarters as a driver, deliveries and laundry person. You must be able to think on your feet, work with a budget and work unsupervised. Working April to September 2013. If you are interested please send letter CV and photograph to us: Nell Gifford, Giffords Circus, The Garden, Folly Farm, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire, GL54 3BY.
Check out our amazing fabrics now on sale in liberties!!!!
Tickets will be on sale for Alice Park, Bath next week - we will be there from 22nd to 26th August.
Come and see our new show 'Lucky 13'
Booking line: 0845 459 7469
Red on the new pony
New pony at Folly Farm
The new ponies, Red, Cecil, Dolly and Mark at the hunt
We are currently looking for a Soprano Opera Singer for our 2013 show called "Lucky 13" - you would rehearse and tour with us from April to September next year (accommodation provided)
If you would like to be considered for the role please send your CV and a photograph of yourself to email@example.com and we will get back to you in the New Year!
We've been having a jolly old time at our christmas Film nights, Tweedy popped in to say hi and lastnight, this fellow did too!!
Old and very quiet pony for Nell and Toti's 3 year old twins Red and Cecil to go hunting on.
Good knowledgeable and permanent home.
Please contact Nell Gifford on 07789395184 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nell and Nancy have been hard at work, making puppets! We don't want to give away too much of next years acts, so we'll keep stringing you along!
Our wonderful juggling brothers came down to the farm for a pre Christmas visit! And we're passing along their merriment and best wishes for the coming festive season!
Nell and Nancy have been hard at work planning, playing with ideas and making models for Next years show! All looking very exciting!!!!!
James Keay and David Insua-Cao from the Giffords Circus band!
Mark Davies from our horse department
Faith - to appear in our band in 2013!
Jerry the Donkey and the Shire horses are very eager to get their tickets to Giffords Circus Christmas Film evenings from December 11th to 16th at Notgrove Village hall. They've heard about the mince pies and like the sound of the live music, they even know that they need to call 08454597469 to book tickets, the only problem is that none of them can remember where they put their phones!
The circus tent, horses and caravans are all back at Folly Farm and ready for the winter. Not much remains from the 2012 tour except a few posters that we may have missed when our teams went out to take them down. If you'd like to help us by taking down any that you see we would really appreciate it. If you take down 6 and cut out Tweedy's head and send them in to us at: Giffords Circus, The Garden, Folly Farm, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire, GL54 3BY we will send you a ticket for the 2013 opening night!
Back at Folly Farm - sandwiches for all!
Circus horses unwinding in the fields
Horses going out in the fields for holidays!
We have decided to start the "Giffords Circus Kid's Club" - for any children who have lived or worked on the show, or their parents have lived and worked on the show. We want to start with a news letter and club tie and are looking to run a litte summer camp next year. If you are, or know any Giffords Circus Kids please let us have your/their addresses as many of you have moved on and lost touch. Please email us email@example.com
15.2 filly by Stanhope Diddicoy. Born 2008. Beautiful extravagant mover, sweet and kind temperament. As seen at Giffords Circus ridden by Danny Cesar. £4,000 ONO
Baby Giffords and baby Baldings the next generation!
Our film nights in December in not grove village hall are now on sale. Very limited tickets so book now.
Also in Cirencester we are doing a special 'school night ' dinner. The shows on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th September have been in changed to 6 pm, with a £10 bangers and mash dinner afterwards.
The circus equestrian days advertised in the programme and the website have been scheduled to take place on the 9th of February, at Folly Farm.
The day will consist of an early look at the horses for the 2013 show as they come in from their winter break and start their training for the 2013 show.
There will be an opportunity to have a go at equestrian vaulting, and to watch the first steps towards circus trick training. A hearty farm lunch is also provided.
For further details and to book please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Coloured filly by Stanhope diddicoy. Born 2008. Lovely quality horse well broken and schooled. Can be seen at Giffords circus and will be available September 2012 . £6000. Please call nell on 07789395184.
Coloured filly by Stanhope diddicoy. Born 2008. Lovely quality horse well broken and schooled. Can be seen at Giffords circus and will be available September 2012 . £6000.
Please call nell on 07789395184.
"An evening with Giffords Circus films"
Relive the Giffords shows Caravan 2008, Yasmine 2010 directed by Molly Molloy & The Saturday Book 2012 directed by Cal McCrystal
Each 20 minute film will take you back to our summer shows, exciting acts, beautiful costumes and breath taking showmanship, including backstage footage captured by film-makers James Graham and The Horrod and Harris Partnership. Accompanied by live music from members of the Giffords Circus band.
Join Nell, Toti and others from the Giffords Circus company for mince pies, mulled wine and memories from the summer.
Notgrove Village Hall, Gloucestershire
Tuesday 11th December 6pm
Wednesday 12th December 6pm
Thursday 13th December 6pm
Friday 14th December 6pm
Saturday 15th December 7.30pm
Sunday 16th December 7.30pm
£13 per person
For tickets call 0845 459 7469
Thanks to everyone who replied to my post about the visual researcher. The post is now closed. Thanks to all from Nell
Rainy day in Oxford? Have to visit the museum...
We are now at Stadhampton, 5 miles north of Oxford and I am looking for a student, or similar with a passion for circus culture to do 1 day's visual research for me this week in exchange for 4 tickets to a show.
If you are interested come along to the box office at Stadhampton and find me or give me a call on 07789 395184
It's wet and muddy, but we are all happy. Fighting spirit!
Bad weather means muddy grounds not easy
But the troops keep smiling!
Digging trenches to keep stables dry
How to get twins off a muddy ground!
So lovely practising the Mikado on the village pond . This is it
New childrens t shirts get them on line soon or at the circus shop NOW!
Loads of people have been asking us why we are not going to be at Hay during Hay festival. We are not going to be there in 2012 because the Castle trust withdrew their permission for us to play there. We cannot afford their rates and we cannot afford the festivals advertising rates. We made the decision that the alternative sites that we were offered in the town were neither commercially nor logistically suitable for our show. We are incredibly sad because we love the town and we love the festival and it was our very first gig. We are grateful for all the support that the people of hay and the festival organisers have shown us over the years: it is a community and an event that we hold very close to our hearts.
Thank you ! And please try and catch the show at one of our other sites. Check out www.giffordscircus.comfor more information.
This years show directed by cal Mccrystal direct from the West end and Broadway hit One Man Two Govners.
Thanks to Danter's Funfair!
...then off to playgroup!
We have arrived at the first ground! Everyone is excited and tonight the restaurant have cooked up a yummy roast pork. Even Red can't resist a bit of crackling!
Bubbas watching rehearsals
I can do it!
Folly Farm is a hive of activity today...from sets, props and scenery being made to the band practising!
These two lovely young horses are meeting the musicians for the first time.
WANTED - any old / antique tack, such as old flat nosebands, or cut away flat saddles, maybe even with linen linings...CASH PAID...for this years tour.
Outside our house there are caravans, tents and wagons everywhere. The army is here! An army of musicians, composers, artistes, jugglers, gymnasts...... The barn is full of scenic painters, the tent is up in the garden, our new director is due to fly in from new York at the end of the week. It is nail bitingly exciting and nerve wracking.
We have just been to a vintage market in Newbury where we will be going instead of the old Hay on Wye ground - there and to a beautiful little arts festival on the edge of Oxford. I can't wait! We are all feeling so excited about getting out on the road and doing what we love - entertaining people.
Folly Farm is now buzzing with circus acts, student artistes, designers - the countdown to opening night starts now!
Red and Cecil are increasingly excited about the circus in their garden and stand on the porch heckling their favourite people to come over and chat to them.
It is a white knuckle ride in so many ways. If any one out there can help us push out fliers, posters and tickets PLEASE let us know. We are also available for talks, assemblies and farmers markets....
The barn we are ready to start set painting
Red, Cecil and Auntie Lydia
Red with Tom the tiny pony!
The tent is going up for rehearsals this week at Folly Farm
Thanks to everyone who sent messages after Countryfile on Sunday.
Planting a parterre at Folly Farm
Do watch out for us on Countryfile this Sunday (4th March) BBC1 7pm - Jules Hudson tries his hand at vaulting, meets the animal stars of our upcoming show 'The Saturday Book' and chats to Nell ans Toti about the Circus and Folly Farm.
Take a look at the Countryfile website for more information about the episode
Jules Hudson from BBC 1's Countryfile trying his hand at vaulting, watched by Nell and Red
Cotswold Wildlife Park - the best zoo ever!
We always ride like this!
Red showing Bibi and Tweedy how it's done!
Cecil gets in on the act with Tweedy and Red
Red and Cecil with Bichu, one of our jugglers!
All our horses spend some of the year outside, in the field, being normal horses. They get hay and hard food and grow long coats.
The working horses have a very carefully thought through time table of work to make sure that they don't get too tired, and have plenty of time to rest. They are also turned out when we are on tour so that they can graze and walk freely about. They have regular visits from the dentist, vet and back specialist.
Sometimes we sell horses. I always make sure that they go to good permanent homes. For example the black horse from last years show I sold to a lovely lady who teaches autistic children to ride. He is now one of their favourites and spends a lot of his time being kissed and cuddled by the children. We sold another pony to an RDA group called The Fortune Centre. He is a much loved pony there and because of his experience in shows he takes part in their annual Carol concert!
I have just been to the Tales on Moon Lane bookshop in Dulwich. It is the best children's bookshop in the world you have to go there it only 10 minutes from Victoria on the train. It stocks all the children's books that I remember from childhood - Asterix, Baba the Elephant, Tintin, the pop up haunted house by Jan Pienkowski. This photograph is of a cartoon drawn by Jan on the wall in the bookshop. It all stocks all the great new children's books as well as little cardboard theatres, shadow theatres, pom pom making kits and lots of sweet and affordable toys and delights.
Look out for Giffords Circus on Escape to the Country on BBC1 Wednesday 22nd Feb (tomorrow) at 2.15pm. We filmed the episode with them in Barrington last summer. Presenter Denise Nurse tried her hand at some circus skills with our jugglers Bibi and Bichu and our clown Tweedy was on hand to cause some mischief!
Photo: Michael Seadon
Countryfile presenter Jules trys his hand a vaulting, watched carefull by Nell and Red!
The Crew at Giffords Circus are sending Rob Mann much love x
We have been filming for Countryfile all day . It will be coming out next month so look out for it. Also next week are on Escape to the Country.
Thanks to all the mechanical geese people that got in touch we have now someone to make them but have kept everyone who replied on file for future projects.
We have just got some new fliers printed so if any one in involved in a shop/ nursery group/ school, and would like some fliers and posters to give out, please let me know. Just email email@example.comI am so excited about this year. The horses are all going really well, the boys are looking like proper circus riders, spring is in the air, the programme is coming together -it is all to live for.
Toti and I saw Warhorse and really enjoyed it. But the constant pretend neighing and fake horse acting does grate. Warhorse the stage show was genius because it turned puppets into horses; Warhorse the movie turned horses into puppets. Less magic.
We are still searching for a hard working groom, someone who is willing to throw their lot in with ours, show initiative, work long hard hours and devote themselves to our circus horses!
Please only apply if you are confidant, competent, had previous experience working with horses and able to take sole charge!
Ability to drive a horse lorry, tow a trailer an advantage.
Please contact our Yard Manager Mark Davies on 07582 827731
If you are interested for applying to work in the Giffords Circus stables the job interview will include a morning's work at our yard, and you will need to show that you can work under your own steam, cleaning, mucking out, tacking up - if you stand about waiting to be asked to do something you won't get through!
Red & Cecil having fun in the snow at Folly Farm!
Red take a tumble, but Cecil lends a helping hand!
Folly Farm frozen solid. In the spring this will be full of music.
Practise WILL make perfect. Training in the barn.
In october of 2007 whilst walking in St Germain in Paris I heard a brass band playing that to me just sounded like the sound of happiness. The band joined our circus the following season. They are called the Fanfare Suivante. They worked for us for several seasons and were consistently creative and energetic with a touch of genius. Thankyou Fanfare people, wherever you are now and wherever your adventures take you!
We had a really exciting meeting with our new director, Cal McCrystal on Thursday. We are looking for a clever artistic person who would be avaialble in April to design and build some geese that can play music, drive cars and fly about. To the right person this will all seem entirely normal!
Please email me if this short contract appeals to you firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ardenne ponies are going really well. Time and patience, time and patience. A lot of circus people have been offering us help with this act, which is so nice. For example Yasmine, Mike Austin, and Carlos MacManus. We feel really honoured to be in a small way keeping a circus tradition alive.
I saw a photograph of Joey, one of the horses used in Warhorse. I felt really annoyed that it was an Andalusian. It is such a complete and utter nonsense that an English farm horse before the war would be a Spanish bred. It's so sad. Call me a nerd but the whole history of civilization is right there embedded in the horse breeds of the world. I think that a massive budget movie like Warhorse should get it right. I know Spanish horses are photogenic and trainable, but Joey would have been an Irish Draft, and it just silly to make him into a fancy European breed.
The new year is here and the birds sometimes make a sound like it could be spring .... circus time approaches...
RUNAWAY and JOIN THE COMPANY.
I am looking for a fluent French speaker who would be willing to joint the team from April to September as an au pair / tutor to work alongside Red and Cecil's nanny and teach them (and maybe me) French. It would mean living in a caravan and watching two circus shows all summer every day with the twins. If you know anyone interested then please contact me on email@example.com
We also have some touring intern/work placement positions working front of house on the show. Sequins provided! Again please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy New Year everyone
In the Ashmolean museum the day after Boxing Day.
Jimmy Joe's favourite thing in the museum, good choice!
My favourite thing!
Brilliant news! We are going to be visiting the lovely Victoria Park in Newbury from the 31st May to 5th June. We are so excited about this. The Park is a lovely town pleasure ground with a glassy lake and an exquisite bandstand. The town council have been so great to work with and we are really excited to be a part of the Queens Jubilee celebrations on Sunday 3rd June. I can see lots of tea cups, colourful bunting, the band playing and children doing dressing up games. The park feels just right for the circus - elegant and civic. It is so important that the circus is sited in a place where it feels welcome, public and celebrated. When I worked in Europe on circuses all those years ago I realised that this was one of the secrets of the success of continental circus. The grounds were always in some ways a celebration of the circus. The circus is an installation - the white tent, the burgundy wagons, the fairy lights - it brings diversity and popular culture. If it is shoved to the outskirts of the town, to wastelands, rutted fields and places that no one loves, then the circus itself appears unloved. When I worked for circus shows in the UK in the early nineties this is so often where we would play - on bits of rough ground, ground ear marked for development, even dumps. And this drags down the cultural status of circus, and I think it was a part of the decline in UK circus in the nineties. We want to feel that we are in a public space, open and on view, a beautiful temporary arrangement to be looked at and visited. It is an interesting psychology.
More on Victoria park soon.....
Giffords Circus is a miniature village green circus. I think that a beautiful circus with ponies and dancing girls and a live band is the perfect use of an english village green. It is all too easy in this age of licensing and legislation to end up just playing on purpose built show grounds. When Giffords Circus comes to a village we bring laughter, glamour and entertainment for all the family. We are always on the look out for lovely village greens or playing fields where we can work with the local community to create a really special annual summer event. For example when we are in Barrington in Gloucestershire we work with the local pub, The Fox Inn, to provide drinks in the interval, and the pub serves up lunches and dinners to the everyone for the week we are there, as well as breakfasts for hungry circus folk on build up morning. At Frampton on Severn the local church holds a lovely family service in the big top on Sunday morning. We structure our show times around the service, and the band help with the music. At Minchinhampton the local unemployed young people who hang about the town square do litter picking and car parking in exchange for free tickets.
If you are part of a community that runs a village green, and would like to be considered as part of the Giffords Circus tour, then please do get in touch with us. We need to be somewhere within about an hours drive to of Oxford. There are lots of things to chat through, for example parking, licensing and working with village events, but we are really used to talking through this stuff and finding solutions. If you are interested then please do email me, Nell, on email@example.com
Hay on Wye
I know that there is alot of confusion about whether or not we will be at Hay festival again this year. I am so sad to say this but the answer is no, we won't. We were booked to play at the festival on the castle ground, but two weeks ago the castle trust suddenly withdrew our permission, as Hay Festival want to use the site as music venue. An alternative site was found for us in town but we have a license for the castle and do not want to keep having to apply for a new premises license each season. The alternative site was off the beaten track. We did feel it was unfair of the castle to change their minds at such short notice for 2012 as it takes time to open up new grounds, and we had publicised the Hay dates and put tickets on sale. I am so sorry to anyone who has bought tickets, or was looking forward to seeing us at the festival. The tickets will be refunded or exchanged, and there are other venues around the South West where you can see Giffords Circus perform.
It is sad not to be going to Hay festival. It is such a brilliant event we love it, and thoroughly recommend it for a weekend or week of complete escapism
There's a wire up at Folly Farm!
Russian vogue came to Folly Farm at the weekend to do a fashion shoot. They had the most amazing diamond jewels with them. The model was sparkled and twinkled amongst the bare winter apple trees like an exotic bird.
Bob Dylan in concert on Saturday night. Amazing!
What style! Ballet on horseback training commences at Folly Farm
Look our for Giffords Circus on Paul Merton's Adventures on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm!
YYou absolutely have to check out the little video of the Lula fashion shoot by Ellen von Unwerth at Giffords Circus. It is so adorable http://vimeo.com/30871156
Meanwhile back at headquarters the new Giffords Circus vaulting horses have started their training. They are so good. Here is a picture of Savvy.
The other horse is called Militaire. I feel lucky to be working with these gentle animals who are so co operative and calm. Inside the twins watch a dvd of French logging horses on an endless loop....
Tomorrow Toti and I are driving to Belgium to look for a small heavy horse for next season. We are looking at the ardennes breed, the oldest type of heavy horse in the world. It's very exciting. I love getting new horses in for training, it is such a fun moment in the year.
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Red and Cecil feeding the horses at Folly Farm
Giffords Circus Season 2011 - War and Peace. Check out this video which captures all the highlights from this years show from the early rehearsals to final show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRDyiFsTPFI
The next door neighbours Sophie, Phoebe and Elodie came to make biscuits .
Next year, 2012, the show is called The Saturday Book. The Saturday Books were annuals published between the 1940's and the 1970's and in their own words were " based on individuality in the choice of words and pictures, on attention to those things which result in a handsome looking book, and quite simply, value for money." The articles in these annuals were eccentric and diverse - there might be series of colour plates of different horse paintings, or an essay on William Morris, followed by a photographic section looking at Victorian ladies hats. It often featured articles on music hall and variety artistes. The Saturday Book was a humorous look at the culture of the first half of the twentieth century.
I think it will be fun to do a show that is a series of acts, vignettes and illustrations, focusing on this period in time, and that celebrates the music hall era. Last year we did a very different kind of book, a giant Russian novel. In 2012 the subjects are lighter, there is no direct story line, and the intention is comedy.
Read the fantastic blog of the Giffords writer in residence Beth Timmins.
Gifford's family bonfire at the weekend!
Last night I went to Wiltons Music Hall to see Britannicus directed by Irina brown. It was great - intense classical drama like walking into someone's house and watching as this terrible row erupts. I totally recommend it.
Taking a show based on Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ to the Hay Literary Festival could not have been more perfect. Our setting on the Castle Grounds overlooking the rolling hills of Hay-on-Wye was also something very special. And so in true Giffords Circus style, we dispatched two of our team to help spread the word…little did we know that their picture would start to appear on every magazine and newspaper in the area. Well done Kitty, Scarlett and Molly for spreading the Giffords Circus glamour amongst the Hay festival-goers…
At the weekend we went to Emma and Matthew's new house for croquet. Matthew and I saw this little owl sitting on a post.
This is the twins playing in Windsor great park.
This is Tom the tiny pony trying to hide from Red behind the sofa in the playroom. I bought him for them on Thursday he is wonderful.
Red, Cecil and I have been clearing the garden, raking up leaves and having a big bonfire. We are getting everything ready for the winter, and for the training next spring. We found this birds nest in a shrub. It has a strand of fibre woven into it that is from the ring boxes.
We are back with a new show!!!!
Expect thrilling scenes inspired by this epic Russian novel re-imagined for a family audience. New costumes, new choreography, new artistes, and an original score by the Giffords Circus band, as well as Giffords Circus favourites such as Brian the Goose, Tweedy the Clown and Red the Horse. The show is produced by Nell and Toti Gifford, written and directed by Irina Brown, with music by Sarah Llewellyn and choreography by Fleur Darkin.
And as with every tour, Giffords Circus will travel across much of rural Gloucestershire and the South West with the show, bringing families and communities together to share in this magical circus experience. The tour will start on Thursday 19th May 2011 at Gloucester, travelling through Hay Festival, Cheltenham, Broadway, Tackley, Stadhampton, Lechlade, Barrington, Frampton, Minchinhampton, Marlborough; and ends in Cirencester’s Stratton Meadows on Sunday 11th September 2011.
In 2011 we also welcome back Circus Sauce, the unique forty-two seat travelling restaurant that is part of the circus on tour. After the show, we serve a starlit sumptuous dinner, using fresh seasonal and local ingredients, to the artistes and the audience. Circus Sauce is also open during intervals for freshly baked cakes, traditional ice-cream, teas, fruit drinks and other tasty refreshments.
Click here for 2011 venues and dates.
Toti, our twins Red and Cecil, Brian the goose and Kwabana Lindsay and I attended the Gloucestershire performs event at Gloucester Cathedral this evening!
Some pictures below:
Eclipse's two foals are back from their summer grazing. Here is one of them.
It's so amazing to finish the season on such a happy note. The season went by in a flash, definitely the fastest season ever for me. I say a little prayer every time we finish a season with no major dramas and no accidents. Every year that goes past I become more and more aware of how potentially dangerous circus work is. Every show is a negotiation with danger. Thats why circus people are so careful, so precise. There is no recklessness in circus. You can't just hope to get through it somehow - there has to be a solid technique to everything, that makes it work every time. There is an immense pressure to sustain that technique and keep applying it with rigour, and so when the season ends, that pressure has suddenly gone. It is strange.
We have been home from tour for two weeks. Most of the time we have been unpacking wagons, boxes, lorries, baskets, bags - it takes ages, much longer than you think it is going to.
The garden is full of vegetables and fruit so we have been making apple sauce for the freezer.
The horses go straight out at the end of the season. The chestnut horse red and the black and white mare Eclipse are such old hands that they just stroll out into the autumn and get their heads down. I am sure that they know it's the start of the holidays for them.
I miss the show, the company, the endless stream of friendly faces passing by, the chat and the noise of the show. The silence does ring in your ears when it is all over, the silence and the stone house. The circus is noisy, flapping, banging, shaking - every wall is canvas or thin timber, the ground underneath you bumpy and ever changing, the music constant.
Maisie, the lovely girl who runs the pizza wagon , showed me these photographs recently. They were taken at her sisters birthday party about 30 years ago. Clover and I provided the entertainment in the form of a miniature circus! We borrowed this little white tent which we decorated with cardboard flowers. We did dressing up and egg and spoon races. Our lodger was there dressed in his hunting clothes - I think he brought some hound puppies along that we we walking. We took a pony and cart. I dressed up as a ring master. There is Maisie serving up the cakes. Nothing changes!
I think that this is a very early sign of Giffords Circus...
We are off on holiday at the end of the week, just us four.
Hades and Griffin are loving their countryside walks, and look how photogenic they are! And the sun is back out at Folly Farm so it’s playtime for the dogs and people alike. If you want to see more photo's of the dogs as well as the circus in general, take a look at our instagram.