Of course this isn’t the first time we have spent time in a small English village. Last year we were in the small village of Waddington in Lancashire where we developed a love for taking the public footpaths on long walks through the countryside.
This alone would have been reason enough to return to England, but add to that the ability for greater social interaction because of a common language, we came back.
We didn’t have a car for the first six weeks that we were here, and we have both agreed that it was the single best decision we could have made. We walked, took the bus and train, and walked still more such that we learned the community and the pace of life much better than if we had just driven quickly past.
Stroud had several events that we walked into town to attend. The Stroud Nature Fest at Stratford Park as well as the Stroud Country day, dampened by a little rain in morning and wet ground, but still a fun day for families filled with music, booths, and competitions.
It was on one of our walks that we discovered the local cricket match in our neighborhood. And it was at the cricket match, during one of many conversations that we learned of the fund raising supper for the Selsley Cricket Club and All Saints church in the nearby Scout HQ building. We made our reservations the next day.
It was a wonderful evening of food and conversation. Naturally, there were remarks and introductions by the head of the club prior to the supper. The meal, a delicious lasagna, was ably provided by the local “church ladies” who were also responsible for the large number of delectable desserts.
Further along in the calendar was the Selsley Sausage & Cider Festival. Besides the sausages and cider, there was live music, a hog roast, dog contests (categories included dog with the waggiest tail -1 min wagging, prettiest bitch, most-handsome dog, dog that most looks like their owner, and best retrieving dog) and much more. It was another afternoon of friends, fun, and food.
One of the events that everyone here has urged us to attend is the Giffords Circus. We were just able to acquire tickets for a matinee show, and when we arrived at Minchinhampton Common for the performance, all future shows here were sold out. As we made our way toward the large white tent (actually a rather small big-top), we passed by a collection of classic circus-wagons that comprise the “village” that the performers and crew inhabit for the 11 days and 25 performances in Minchinhampton alone. The troupe performs 2-3 shows almost daily in 14 different locations.
The queue to enter the “small-top” was filled with all kinds of people, families with children, and grandparents. Children were bouncing about with excitement or eating candy floss (cotton candy) with traditional calliope circus-music playing in the background to set the mood.
At the appointed time, the queue began to move into the tent. The small ring dominated the center surrounded by bleacher seating all around. The tent quickly filled and as the anticipation mounted, I found myself looking around the crowd of all ages and thinking that at a circus, everyone is a kid.
In this tent, no one was far from the action; everyone can see the smiles of the performers. Accompanied by an onstage, 6-piece band the music switched smoothly between classical baroque, upbeat Latin, and pop.
As the show began, horse riders navigated the tiny ring with great skill, then acrobats swung from quickly setup rigging, clowns, jugglers, a contortionist, a breakdancer, and even a human pyramid skipping ropes were among the various acts that entered the ring.
And did I mention clowns? Not the grease-painted, orange-haired variety. Rather, the delightfully funny and slapstick, Mustache Brothers, the little-man ringmaster, and the locally renowned Tweedy all of whom delighted the crowd with their antics and sometimes mild, salty humor.
Beside the horse act, there were no other animals … except for the chickens. Every once in a while 2-4 special chickens would run around the ring to the band’s best Austin Powers rendition, or chase after Tweedy, then just as quickly exit behind the curtain.
In all it was a great experience, and as we exited the tent it was obvious that everyone else agreed.
Needless to say, we have stayed rather busy. We calculated that we have walked well over 300 miles both on our own and with the Stroud Rambling Club, but that will be another story.