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February 20, 2008 > Across the Pond: Winter thoughts

Across the Pond: Winter thoughts

February - it must be pancakes! The British tradition of Pancake Day on Shrove Tuesday means getting out the frying pan, lemon and sugar. Unlike your Across The Pond version, our pancakes are large, thin and flippable. In fact the flippability is the best part.....some would argue. Every year brings the usual cartoons of pancakes stuck to the ceiling, pancakes on people's heads and generally pancakes anywhere but in the pan.

After practically being washed away with rain over the past months we've suddenly been blessed with unseasonably warm, pleasant sunshine. Newarkers rushed into their gardens, pruning, digging and planting. Garden Centres were packed. Birds are singing again, mornings are lighter and people are smiling. It's tempting to say, "If this is global warming....bring it on!" but I know that's irresponsible of me. It is great though to unfasten a coat, leave off a glove and arrive back home without a beacon like red nose!

In case the sun's rays disappeared as quickly as they had arrived, I dashed off to Rufford Park with Daisy dog. We walked round the well stocked lake, past the sculptured stone shepherd and ram - both still wearing woolly scarves that someone with a sense of humour had carefully tied around their necks during last week's icy winds.

The ongoing improvements at the Park are impressive; a newly completed children's play area awaits half term holiday's little visitors. Unfortunately though, lack of funding means the world famous art gallery is to be closed. This is a tremendous loss as it has displayed a wonderful array of paintings, textiles and ceramics over the years. However, a movement is gathering pace to fight the cause and save the day; or gallery in this case. Supporters from as far afield as China and Australia are sending their e-mails, so it may yet be saved.

On the subject of artistic talent, Newark's Grove School has just staged the most magnificent version of "Les Miserables" at the local Palace Theatre. I was there on the last night in a packed auditorium joining in the well deserved standing ovation. Participants in this brilliant production ranged in age from 11 to 18 and were all absolutely stunning in their presentation of this very challenging show. Never have so many letters and e-mails of support been sent to both the school and the local newspaper. Having seen the "Les Mis" London version, twice, I admit to being a little anxious that they may have "overstretched" themselves. If there were words to eat I'd have happily eaten them! Young people have amazing talent and capabilities if led by the gifted teachers who foster and encourage such skills.

Those who inspire and spend time with the next generation truly deserve all the Oscars, awards and praise going. However, such people don't do it for personal glory; the glowing faces, dedicated performances and pure joy of achievement I saw at the Palace Theatre are reward enough.

I wish you pride in your young Newarkers too.

Frances

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