Bell End East – All Fruit and Nut at Woodsford Castle

Once in a while, when the fairytale momentarily flags at the Olde End, it becomes necessary to take the show on the road.  Previous sojourns in places diverse as Venice, Catania, Paris, Istanbul and Marrakech have served to breathe momentary fire into souls grown weary of all-artisanal Brooklyn, with its slow-braised pork belly and salvaged-wood-and-conduit aesthetic.

And so to Woodsford Castle in the heart of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex; a 14th Century fortified knob of granite with license to crenellate, converted by the writer’s father into rather a grand farmhouse circa 1850. What better pageantry than seven squealing, prancing schoolgirls of age and origin diverse, each issued with ¬£10 with which to root through the crustier cellars of Old Weymouth’s Charity Shoppes in search of costumes in which to ring out the old year, sing in the new?

And a thought for 2013, from the pen of Hardy himself:

Love is, yea, a great thing,
A great thing to me,
When, having drawn across the lawn
In darkness silently,
A figure flits like one a-wing
Out from the nearest tree:
O love is, yes, a great thing,
A great thing to me!

Cousin Wilfred Simon

Cousin Wilfred Simon

Auntie Paula Bromley-Slocombe

Auntie Paula Bromley-Slocombe

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The Dowager Countess Iolanthe Stewpot

Old Mother Jobsbottom, Soothsayer

Old Mother Jobsbottom, Soothsayer

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Miss Montgomery Delaware-Montague

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Nephew Puck

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Bramwell Barnsley-Inman

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