Bread And Butter

Having arrived at Lantern House and parked Dolly inside we went out to buy supplies alone. We had barely taken a step when the sky grew dark and the rain fell. Not much but ironic that having been outdoors for some days the weather would choose to turn the second we housed Dolly inside.

The turn in the weather forced us to move the evening performance into the barn and as such we were to deliver our show indoors for the first time. The Lantern House company had just finished painting a brand new showman’s stage for a series future projects and as such we were to tread her boards for the first time. Dolly fit her platform snuggly and we set up ready to show.

Despite traveling for a good few days now we were still close enough to home to receive a good audience with many familiar faces. Our friends from the walking festival were in attendance alongside colleagues from the world of street entertainment and artists involved with the Lantern House creation centre. Local folk were also gathered and a strong audience numbering 70 settled for lights up.

Performing indoors is a very different sport and we were able to relax our vocal and tell our tales to a warm reception. The hat bulged as the audience drifted and we moved over to the Stan Laurel pub to count up and eat. A good whip round yielded £66 and we were happy to note that our funds were just up on last nights take. We had decided early in our planning that we would leave Piel Island with just £20.00 each and after that survive with what we could earn from the kindness of our audience.

In the real world people were busy voting in local elections and I was keen to find a contact number for the exchequer to announce that at least in the world of us Vagabonds profits were up and perhaps he might reconsider the governments decision to slash funding to the arts and destroy much of the colour and inventiveness that enhances our existence.

After all it was not us artists or audience that greedily dragged the nation into this mire of financial disaster and as such why should we be made to pay. The building we had just performed in was one of the many to lose out recently to the arts councils cuts alongside many other companies that deliver both entertaining and enriching projects. Thankful as we are for the collections we make along the way this project would never be affordable without the financial support in our case from Lakes Alive. If we are to enjoy events or projects that bring people together and are of high quality they will always need to be supported. It’s all well and good to survive on bread alone but sometimes you need some butter on it.

That said we slept well in a small cosy room in the tower of Lantern House and are thankful for their support, encouragement and breakfast. The Vagabonds wish them well going forward.

Incredibly the drizzle and clouds lifted the very moment we walked outside and we left Lantern House with cuddles from the team and full of jam and bacon. We wheeled Dolly to the statue of Laurel and Hardy for photos and were pleased when a passing vicar blessed Dolly and our adventure. A blessing we were hoping might see us safely onto the train that would transport us to Grange.

The station mistress was less sure that Dolly would fit on board. Even if she did squeeze on the train I was advised the guard would probably ask us to detrain for fear of blocking the emergency exit and health and safety regulations.

As I stood on the platform looking back down the line towards Barrow I preferred for once to look away from home and to the landscape of hills and woodlands framed by the eastern tunnel and fresh adventures.

When the train did arrive Dolly made it onboard with half an inch to spare and the guard was more than happy to help lift Dolly aboard. I was never in any doubt. If we were able to transport our theatre across from Piel Island aboard a tiny boat we could take her anywhere. Besides I had measured the doors myself a year in advance for this very journey and we had so recently been blessed by both the King of Piel and now the clergy.

As we traveled at speed I looked out over beautiful and vast Morecambe Bay. To the right the coastal road we had so recently tramped. Piel Island now very much in the distance and just the tip of Bardsea church spire visible. To the left the mountains of the Lake District where we are soon to explore. Shortly the large hotels and small station at Grange where we alighted for coffee on the promenade.

Here in Grange we begin the second leg of our coastal adventure before moving inland. Soon we will be far from home and I suspect feel slightly more alone. Even during my many years living away I have always remained a proud Barrovian, and exploring the coast road on foot as we have I burst with pride for the natural beauty of where we live and the kindness and welcome we have received along the way from our local folk. I don’t know what will become of us as we drift further afield but I do know that despite being hungry for adventure there is still no place like home.

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