This morning didn’t have the most auspicious start I’ve got to admit. I’m not a big drinker usually but this weekend just happened to include two nights out in a row. Including last night when Mr PB and I accidently crashed a wedding. No seriously. It honestly was a genuine error though. We arrived at the venue that Mr PB had written down carefully on the calendar before putting the invite into the recycling, (maybe now he will stop moaning at me for keeping everything!!), we were a little late and flustered and weren’t too phased that we didn’t recognize anyone, we only really knew the groom after all!
We headed straight for the bar and got a drink, and after about 10 minutes of looking round, slowly came to the realisation that we may not be at the right wedding, Mr PB refused to believe we, (he!), could make such an error, until it was 100% confirmed when we went for a tactical look at the cards on the gift table, oh yes,and meeting the father of the groom was a hint too!
Amazingly, we managed to style it out, and while Mr PB went off to try and get hold of his friend, without his phone, and mine without his friend’s number in, my conscience had me standing at the bar trying to subtly explain to the barman our predicament and pay for our drinks, as I couldn’t live with myself knowing that the lovely gift of the first drink being on the bride and groom, was going to go to two people they’d never met!
It just shows that it pays to be honest, because the barman took our drinks off their tab without making me pay for them, and also told me it happened quite a bit and gave me directions to another hotel with a very similar name. And so we made it out without being rumbled, near hysterical with relieved giggles, thinking that surely this must qualify as a tick on our bucketlists!! Luckily, pulling up at the second wedding venue of the night, a large sign on with the name of the bride and groom on put our mind at rest, my faith in Mr PB’s ability to write any details down properly severely shaken, worrying that we were a day late! (Can you imagine?!)
So there we were this morning, feeling a little daunted by the planned trip to see Gifford’s Circus that afternoon, not sure what to expect and feeling pretty fragile, when my poor friend texts to say that both herself and her daughter were too un-well to go. With the planned pre-show picnic pressure off, (I was barely able to decide what to put in a sandwich, let alone make four!), we decided to just stop at the airport on the way back from collecting the car. It is the coolest airport I’ve been to, there is a pub right next to it, with a garden that the runway practically cuts right through.
Feeling much better after a very unhealthy breakfast in the sunshine watching the planes, we stopped off at home for a change into shorts, (very unexpected to see the sun!), and to grab some snacks and sun cream before driving the incredibly scenic route to one of Britain’s real beauty spots, Minchinhampton Common.
The circus was well signposted, and once we arrived, there was ample parking for visitors and around the pristine white big top were very quaint, old-fashioned, burgundy vans selling reasonably priced food, snacks and various other concessions. There were also plenty of toilets which is always brilliant with a high ratio of small people present.
We arrived about half an hour early and already there were short queues to enter the big top, but with two entrances, the lines moved quickly and it was a very smooth and stress-free process to get everyone in and seated. We easily managed to get seats in the second row back from the ring where all the excitement would happen, which was lucky as there is no set seating allocation.
We waited for a short while, the excitement palpable, (as you can see above!), before the hilarious Tweedie the Clown came out to start things off and entertain everyone while the last people found seats and sat down. He was absolutely brilliant and very quickly had all the children in the audience in absolute belly aching hysterics. The adults were all in fits as well actually!
Please believe me when I tell you that to me, from exciting start until the echo of the last clap dies away, Gifford’s Circus is everything that is right in this world and that is written with no exaggeration!
I wasn’t sure what to expect before we went, we’d never been before, but I’d heard very good things and my friend had told me it was brilliant when she asked if we wanted to get tickets to go with her. It costs £22 for an adult ticket and £14 for a child over three and I’m totally happy to say that it was worth every penny.
It exceeded all my expectations of what a circus should be like, and then some. The costumes were exquisite, not what I imagined they’d be, all ball room style sparkly leotards, but more carefully handmade traditional costumes that really helped add to the very real illusion that you had entered another world and time altogether.
The show was two hours in total, including a perfectly timed interval, and was the perfect mix of breath-taking stunts and magic tricks, amazingly well trained horses, comedy, showmanship, fun, wonderful music and loads of laughter.
It was a real highlight for me when the two gorgeous, happy dogs bounded into the ring, obviously loving their roles! You can tell when animals are happy and enjoying performing and all the animals involved in the production looked incredibly well cared for, beautifully groomed and as if they wouldn’t be anywhere else in the world at that moment.
We were lucky enough to get seats right next the musicians because they were a show in themselves, fabulous costumes and some incredibly talented players that used a whole array of different instruments to bring the story to life. They were so good that small boy spent a fair amount of time just watching them.
The many acts included contortion, juggling, aerial acrobatics, tumbling, jokes and slapstick, all neatly telling a story and leading seamlessly from one act to another. Some of the acts performed stunts that looked so dangerous and skilled that the whole audience was rendered silent, it took a moment’s pause after they’d finished for us all to regain the ability to react, before the whole audience would burst into wild cheers and clapping.
The whole show was so well executed and the thing I think I liked most was the sheer enjoyment of everyone involved, animals included, and you really get the sense that everyone loves working together and had as much fun performing their acts as we did watching them.
Everyone seemed to really support each other and it was a real pleasure to watch.
The end was fabulous with a whole cast choreographed dance, and after, all the children were invited to join in. Our two, whilst usually erring on the cautious side where audience participation is involved, were out of their seats and in the ring in a flash, both desperate to be a part of the fun. Small boy even got a ride on a tumbler’s shoulders which he was beyond thrilled about!
I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone reading how I felt about Gifford’s Circus, I LOVED it, and all I want to do now is learn a skill and run away and join them! 😉 At one point during the astonishing tumbling, big girl leaned in to me and whispered that one day she’d like to be an act in the circus. If it ever happens, I will be one proud Mama!
They were genuinely excellent and I have no doubt that it will be our family tradition to go for many many years to come.