Get Fishing, Ladies Day – with King William IV Angling Society

I was all ready for a tranquil day by the lake and not even the weather was going to mess it up.

Most of August was a washout. Activity days were planned only to be cancelled at the last minute. Not all of them though. Fortunately, fish like it wet.

Last Saturday was Get Fishing, Ladies Day at Boggart Hole Clough and I was booked in. The Clough is blessed with a boating lake, alas no boats, and a fishing lake, with lots of fish. The lakes sit side by side separated by a promenade and a café, aka The Lakeside Café.

My coach for the session stepped forward with a smile and introduced herself as Emma. She went through the basics of preparing the rod, showing me how to attach the bait and keep the ‘float’ in the right place ready for a curious fish to be tempted. I settled in.

There were several other participants being shown what to do nearby. The rain kept coming but no-one seemed to mind. The cafe generously kept us supplied with hot drinks and food and we sat quietly, waiting and listening to the sounds around us, chatting now and then.

It wasn’t long before there was a stir of activity as someone felt a ‘tug’ on their line. “A fish! I’ve got one.” They shouted. Coaches were ready with a net and helped bring it in. Then a quick photo shoot of the lucky angler with their ‘catch’ before it was placed gently back in the water to carry on its day.

I loved the atmosphere. It was friendly, exciting and the setting was lovely.

In the afternoon, I got the chance to chat to coach, Duncan Mottershead. I’d met him before at another event called ‘Spring into Fishing’ and asked him why do one just for ladies.

“The Society has approximately 70 members but only 5 are women” he told me. “We want to show that angling is accessible to anyone; male, female, young and old alike.”

Apparently, Emma Jenks was from the Angling Trust and had come along to help out just for the day. She was a Ladies England International.

“We have several coaches who volunteer their time and expertise. They’re fully qualified and we ensure all permits, fishing regulations, including health and safety etc., are adhered to. On Saturdays there’s always someone around to help beginners.”

I’m an avid follower of the TV programme ‘Mortimer and Whitehouse Gone Fishing’. It ticks a lot of boxes. The relationship between the two comedians is delightful; it’s interesting, funny and informative. The filming is inspired and the settings are serenely beautiful.

Boggart Hole Clough fishing lake is ‘up there’ too. I’d taken for granted how pretty it was but Duncan explained it takes a lot of careful planning, hard work and maintenance. The water is carefully monitored and, of course, the fish have to be kept stocked up and healthy.

I was impressed. I’d had a lovely morning, tried something new and would encourage anyone, including any woman, to give it a go.  The day was topped off with a goody bag, compliments of Lakeside Community CIC, full of brilliant stuff. The ladies did themselves proud.

I didn’t catch a fish, in case you were wondering. Never mind. I’ll get one next time!

To find out more about King William IV Angling Club and future events just click here. They have a juniors section on Facebook too.

The Lakeside Cafe are on Facebook. You can find out more about the Lakeside CIC by clicking here and keep up to date with what’s going on in Boggart Hole Clough.

Fishing can provide both mental and physical health benefits. The angling club supports initiatives such as Tackling Minds and Fishing for Life (for people with breast cancer) as well as many other organisations.

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North West Theatre Arts Company – Hairspray

They couldn’t have timed it better. NWTAC’s production of Hairspray started on 20th July just one day after Covid restrictions were lifted and it was a sell-out. Moston’s very own theatre at maximum capacity for the first time in 18 months.

For those who haven’t seen the film, Hairspray is set in Baltimore during the early 60’s where schoolgirl Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on The Corny Collins TV show. School doesn’t fit in with her plans so, along with her friend Penny Pingleton, she teams up with fellow African American students when they get put in detention. Together, they oust the reigning prima donna from the TV show along with her domineering mother and win the day.

Hairspray is a light-hearted, fun-filled musical with an underlying theme promoting tolerance and integration.

It also happens to be one of my daughter’s favourite films. She knows it inside out; every scene, every song, every dance move. So I was a bit nervous when I took her and the rest of my family to see the show.

Would NWTAC’s version measure up to the award winning film starring the likes of John Travolta, Zac Efron and Michelle Pfeifer?

Answer: they smashed it!

The casting was inspired. Annabelle Cooke bounced out of bed as Tracy with a bright and energetic ‘Good Morning Baltimore’. She was pitch perfect and I knew straight away we were in for a treat.

Eva Carty played Penny Pingleton perfectly while Jonny Molyneux had Tracy’s mum Edna Turnblad down to a tee. Jonny mustn’t have been available when they cast the film so they settled for John Travolta instead! He and his stage husband Gareth Maudsley have comedy timing in their bones.

James Burke followed in the footsteps of Zac Efron playing Tracy’s heart throb. He has a voice that just oozes confidence and rose to the challenge. Meanwhile, Penny’s love interest, Owen Omoruyi-Garci as Seaweed Stubbs, danced his way into her heart while his sister Little Inez (aka Elim Ghebrehiwet) sang her way into ours.

The TV ensemble was led by Anthony Horricks who carried off Corny Collins with professional smoothness. He and the station manager Velma Von Tussle (played by Melissa Grimes) and her daughter Amber (Kate Bannister) were superb.

In the West End, Marisha Wallace as Motormouth Maybelle was described as a show-stopper when she sang ‘I know where I’ve been’. I can only say that NWTAC’s Toyin Lawal, with her wonderful voice and elegance, was equally mesmerising.

Dance routines and songs just kept coming. Not once did anyone’s American accent falter. The full cast of 37 young actors and actresses who train at the North West Stage School did themselves, Beth Singh (Musical Director) and Katie Gough (Choreographer), Prab and the rest of the production team proud. It is such an elaborate show, packed with entertainment, humour and joy.

The past year and a half have challenged everyone but for this company to come through it all and produce a show as good as this is awesome.

My daughter, the whole of my family, loved it!

For all things NWTAC including future shows, professional theatrical training, their fantastic theatre summer school for anyone age 4+, Gap year theatre course, venue/set/costume hire and much, much more just follow them on Facebook and/or on their website where you can sign up to join the mailing list.

Street Life: Are We Nearly There Yet?

A day trip was the nearest thing to a holiday many kids could look forward to in the fifties.

Since 1836, when John Jennison opened his Pleasure Gardens, Mancunians have flocked to Belle Vue. Our journey there was not as simple as today’s car ride. We had a fair walk, followed by two buses. Transferring from one vehicle to another, we must have looked like refugees about to cross the Gobi desert.

Dad hefted the pushchair. Weighing a couple of stone, its only concession to transportability was a fold-down handle. Mum carried her handbag, the baby, plus all the changing paraphernalia, including wet nappy bags (no disposables then). My burden could be macs and/or umbrellas, and a bag with stuff like damp cloths and sticking plasters.

Our first port of call was generally the zoo. The animals were interesting, though their welfare left a lot to be desired. I’m still haunted by the memory of the famous polar bear as he paced around that stark enclosure.

My parents paid up for rides and ice creams. But Mum wasn’t going to stand in a long queue for over-priced food and drink when a few butties and a (glass) bottle of ‘mineral’ would hardly be noticed amongst our survival gear.

The Belle Vue memory I do cherish is gliding at treetop level on the Scenic Railway. The cost – and long queues – were drawbacks for rides like the Caterpillar. Those ‘free’ fake ruins we loved to play on must have been a godsend for parents.

For something farther away than Belle Vue, an enterprising neighbour might organise a coach trip to the seaside. The whole street would set off for the day, and if it was Blackpool, it might even include the illuminations.

Local newsagents acted as booking offices and designated collecting points for day excursions. Outside the paper shop, kids would compete to be the first to spot the ‘chara’ approaching at its maximum permitted speed of 30mph!

Special clothing for leisure activities didn’t exist then. The small crowd of women would be in ordinary dresses, light coats, nylon stockings and comfortable footwear as they waited for the coach. And if not actually in their Sunday best, kids would be respectably dressed. I would have my hair in two plaits with ribbons and a couple (or more) hair slides. My outfit would be a candy striped frock or similar, white socks, and leather or newly whitened canvas sandals.

Adults and children held diametrically opposed theories for what constituted the perfect day trip. All kids wanted was to get cracking with buckets and spades, while adults deluded themselves that the farther the destination, the more exciting the outing (a notion that would soon be dispelled).

About 10 minutes into any journey by train or coach, there would be a plaintive chorus of “are we nearly there?” or “I’m starving, can we eat our butties yet?”

My personal exception to the distance versus enjoyment ratio was New Brighton, where half the pleasure lay in the train and ferry to get there.

Deckchair hire was an expense, so to keep costs down, a decision had to be made about the fewest number they could manage with. Then someone was nominated to fetch the tea tray. A deposit of 10 shillings secured a pot of tea, milk, sugar and the required amount of thick white cups and saucers to be taken onto the beach. By the time the tray arrived, we kids would have discovered what delights the greaseproof paper packets held. Whatever the filling, sandwiches were invariably warm, soggy and sandy.

Where underclothing was concerned, mum made no concession to season or location. Modesty demanded my dress doubled as a changing tent. Vest, underskirt and navy knickers had to be removed under it, before wriggling into that elasticated pea-green swim suit.

Southport was our favourite seaside destination, so unless there was a sudden downpour, those ghastly swimming costumes never got wet. We loved the Peter Pan (later Happydays) playground in Southport. Grandad could usually be pestered into taking us there before he settled down to read the newspaper, with his trouser legs rolled up and a knotted hankie on his head.

Disposable plastic and electronic games devices were unknown. Back then, we set out with little more than a few sandwiches in greaseproof paper and a couple of comics for the kids, and lived to tell the tale.

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