Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Season for all Festivals

As we all know there was a significant event in July involving one particular new born. Now as a former photojournalist, I wasn't surprised by the amount of newsprint that made up the reporting of this event. But even I was fed up with half the content of every newspaper being taken up with the birth of this royal baby.

I felt sorry for seasoned, professional reporters suddenly put on the spot during the main tv news programmes, struggling desperately to fill a few minutes of prime time telly, to tell the world exciting news that - nothing had happened yet. Meanwhile the public vox pops abounded. The general public guessing on the gender with one interviewee confidently stating that it would be a boy;   'coz I was late like that when I had my Jack'.

But my prize for the best coverage (or lack of it) would go to the Independent, whose columnist brilliantly highlighted that amongst all the hysteria, what really happened was this..... 

 ' .. a young couple were waiting for the birth of their first born. They went to hospital; a baby boy was born. They stood on the hospital steps; they got in a car; they went home.'    (The Independent )

That's the way to do it..  And talking of prizes.....

One of my highlights last month was that I won the Imagine Watford photographic competition (featured in my last blog). I was very chuffed about it as there were some really good photos from other photographers including quite a few professionals.

the winning photo - Imagine Watford 

My prize - £100 worth of Watford Palace theatre tickets. It's a great prize as I love the theatre and film and the Palace put on some really good plays.

 We've been busy in Watford with festivals over the last few weeks as Cassiobury Park hosted the Inland Waterways canal festival for three days. It involved a minor military operation to set up and about 15,000 visitors came along.

Colourful and flagged bedecked narrow boats, moored two abreast, lined the canal and a tented-city of stalls covered nearly half of Cassiobury Park. 

where would any festival be without its Morris dancers
could this be Morris?    
My role at the canal festival was to consult with the public on our latest designs for our Heritage Lottery Funding bid to restore and improve the park.
We had a good response but the stifling heat in the main marquee meant  frequent visits to the ice cream stall.   
 canal boats at the Inland Waterways festival in Cassiobury Park
This month I also managed to see the draft copy of my front cover photograph for my boss's book on London's royal parks. They also chose eight other pictures of mine taken that day to compliment the rest of the book.

a hat, a hat, my dog kennel for a hat. Inland Waterways Festival

this hat stall did a roaring trade at the Inland Waterways Festival on one of the hottest days of the year.

back in time with the boat people.

More photographic commissions came my way with our publicity department at the council asking me to do a photocall of the Mayor with the Friends of Cheslyn Gardens, for a front cover of  About Watford magazine. It's the third year in a row these colourful and delightful gardens have obtained Green Flag status.

In between I've been busy organising events such as the national linked, Our Big Gig, a celebration of community involvement in music and to promote the use of bandstands with events taking place all over the country.

Hartbeats - African drums at the Our Big Gig in Cassiobury Park

This allowed us to use the occasion to link in to one of our major restoration projects under our Heritage Lottery Funded bid, which is to restore our very own Victorian bandstand back to its original location in the  in the park. Parks all over the country have for many years suffered a lack of funding and when that happens, heritage items like a bandstand can lie unused and open to vandalism in a park. Many years ago, our own bandstand was dismantled and re situated outside the library and town hall in Watford's High Street where its use and location has never attracted well
attended musical events. So when we get round 2 stage funding, in June of next year (we hope) one of the first things we will be doing, by popular demand, is re-locating the bandstand back in its natural and original location in the park.
dancing in the park
One of my jobs after much consultation with the public will be to create a year round series of activities and eclectic musical events at the newly installed bandstand.  For now though, we have to make do with a stage and a high top marquee instead. Cassiobury Park is not used to regular smaller events and despite extensive publicity for the Our Big Gig there were not the audience numbers we expected. But as Spielberg once wrote for that famous film, The Field,  'if we build it, they will come'

musical activity returns to the park bandstand site - the local kids enjoying beating out a rhythm

Jive Swing dancers
Jive Swing dancers
 Jive Swing dance troupe

and on a completely different subject....

a friendly squirrel in St James Park on a recent trip to London
Cassiobury Park
In between all this photography, I'm busy organising a heritage tour around  Cassiobury Park in September. But with a difference. It will be a white Shire horse and carriage tour, stopping off at points of historic interest in the park and finishing with coffee and cake in our delightfully
named, Cha Cha Cha tea pavilion. Somehow I can feel some more photos coming on...
 copyright (c) Deborah Anne Brady