At last rehearsals! Over these 4 weeks everyone arrives and is introduced to each other. For those who have been with the Circus a while it’s exciting to imagine how the season will unfold and for the new it’s like stepping into some obscure novel. James and his merry band of musicians arrived on the first week with Hannah, Louis and Drummer Dave returning from last year with the addition of Spencer (vocals and sax) and Sarah (trombone). The horses have been in training all winter with Dan Fortt (Hennessey gold cup winner) who has taken the reins from Mark Davies this year which is very exciting. With him is Emma Beresford and the legend that is Danny Cesar - who told me one night in the pub he used to ride eight horses at once in Olympia as a young man. Then there are the art interns: this year we have the lovely Kate Knott who just can’t keep away, painting the striking back drops and the wonderful Ursula who brought with her a couple of chef shaped puppets along with several other new faces who we will get to know very well over the next few weeks. In the restaurant with me is Max, our new sous chef and the multi-talented Lara who is helping with the art department for the next few weeks and helping to get the kitchen together, all before transforming into our new front of house waitress with Adam when he arrives.
As the first week drew on we unpacked the kitchen, cleaned, sanded and painted whatever we could see whilst cooking for whomever was around, christening the kitchen for the first time this year. The pizza wagon was sent off to Mr Chadwick for a bit of a spruce. It has just been nice to see things moving after an anxious winter wait.
Last Friday saw the arrival of the Ethiopian acrobat troop, fresh from the airport in thermal jumpers, woolly hats and gloves (whilst I was in shorts and a t-shirt!). We spent the evening getting to know them - dancing in Bibi’s wagon. Saturday we decided to walk to the Woolpack pub in Slad, just down the hill from Fennells Farm, down the most stunning hill and woodland famous for being the best spot to pick wild garlic. A couple of pints of pigs ear, some grilled asparagus, sardines, venison tartar and a bowl of hand cut chips made the afternoon even better coupled with the surprise of Tweedy joining us with his cannon firing trainer, Brian.
Sunday was the day. Every year I have been here I will always remember everyone’s arrival to the circus as most people start to turn up through the day. You shake many hands, share hugs, kisses, see old faces, new ones and the stories start to be told of previous years and its back to the life we led six months ago. Maxi the magician has returned from the Lucky 13 tour, one of the kindest and funniest people I know with his little man assistant David who has shown already he will bring much fun to many an evening! We have Kata Kiss who is from Hungary and is very supple performing hoops and aerial net. And of course the formidable Tweedy the clown, Bibi and Bichu.
So we proceed and the atmosphere is like that of my first day at Giffords. Performers practicing everywhere, interns covered in paint, animals darting through legs, a variety of organized chaos that only Giffords can provide! We start to get to know each other and Cal’s party draws ever nearer; the icebreaker. Our wonderful director hosts a party for all the crew which sets the season off with a bang. A big chilli with rice, salsa and guacamole is donated from the kitchen as well as a celebration chocolate ganache cake. You find out a lot about people on this night, Bichu was explaining to me that … and … the sweet Ethiopian kids didn’t believe that they were coming until half way through their flight and they are so happy and excited to be here. Another of our crew has also arrived in the form of Pizza Dave.
After a morning of sore heads and red faces we were back to work. Toti has somehow managed to build the shell of the new restaurant wagon in just two days which quelled my anxiety about not being ready in time for tour. I travelled to Malmesbury to attend a kitchen auction which was really quite fun. I returned with a new sink, oven, dishwasher and I was also tempted by the more unusual items under the hammer, like the pizza delivery bikes, post boxes and public phone boxes but alas, I would have no where to put them! Taylor my other chef arrives for a couple of days to get his bearings and we put the first coat of paint on the new kitchen wagon and it’s really starting to take shape!
So we find ourselves with one week left to go, the restaurant is selling out quicker than I could have ever expected, the kitchen fleet is nearly assembled, the team nearly here. It’s all going rather well! Check in next week to find out how the last week of rehearsals will unfold…
Anyone seen Cotswold life this month?