Actually, the long weekend started last night when we had friends round to dinner. I made baked figs with blue cheese (and prosciutto for the non-vegetarians among us); penne pasta with mixed mushrooms and goat's cheese, served with a big green salad drizzled with parmesan infused olive oil, and apple and peanut butter crumble (made with apples from Jo Reid's garden) and Bird's Eye custard (from a tin). We drank Easter bubbles from France, oaked chardonnay from Hawke's Bay and pinot noir from Central Otago. This morning we cleaned up.
I submitted some artwork to the Arrowtown Autumn Festival - photographs I have taken and had framed or stretched on canvas. Arrowtown is so peaceful in the morning before the visiting hordes arrive that it is worth taking a moment and reflecting how lucky we are to live here. I picked up some pains aux chocolat and a baguette from the French bakery, which I took home and we had them with coffee on the patio.
Him Outdoors was competing in the Lake Hayes Duathlon, which with the main event of the associated triathlon, is the oldest surviving triathlon in the country. He came second by 45seconds to his main rival in his age-group; quite distressed because 'Dave's got a new bike!'
I, meanwhile, mountain biked around the lake and along some local tracks shouting, cheering and generally supporting with a couple of friends who also had nothing better to do.
Afterwards we thought we might have a drink at the local pub but it was closed and the one down the road was charging a surcharge (which I loathe - they make enough money to be able to pay their staff without hiking the prices - if you don't think you can afford to open on a public holiday; don't) so they lost out on four meals and several rounds of drinks from us, as we went home and drank red wine in the front room instead.
Later in the evening we watched The Fakers, 'a funny, sharp and fast-moving tale of blackmail and forgery set in the upper echelons of the international art society'. The 2004 film is billed as an off-beat comedy along the lines of The Thomas Crown Affair or The Italian Job - those are two of my favourite films and it doesn't live up to them, but it's not bad. It stars Matthew Rhys whom I've only ever seen as Kevin Walker on Brothers and Sisters, and he's actually very good - and Welsh! Who knew? I have more respect for him now - not because he's Welsh, but because he can really act.
Him Outdoors had some vouchers that he won at the Motatapu Adventure Race burning a hole in his pocket, so we strolled into town along the river and paid our respects at the cenotaph (it is Anzac Day tomorrow and will be heaving so we got in early) before popping into the shops and buying woolly jumpers and a flat cap for everyday (he still has his grandad's 'for best').
Back home we watched a couple of short films on a DVD I got free with The Observer when I was in England last year. It features 'five early short films from Britain's most influential filmmakers'. First was Amelia and the Angel (1958) directed by Ken Russell. In black and white with a gentle voice-over, it tells the tale of Amelia who takes home her angel's wings to show her mother, 'even though she will see them tomorrow at the school play'. When her horrid brother destroys them, she searches throughout London for another pair (including cemeteries and rag and bone carts), despairing until she stumbles across an artist's studio where a bearded sandal-wearing painter dresses up his models in theatrical outfits.
The clear narrative arc, dramatic music and omniscient narrator reminded me of an episode of The Clangers - things were simpler back then, even for Ken Russell it seems. Some of his early directorial touches are evident; the low camera work intended to mimic a child's view would have been considered a stroke of genius, although commonplace now.
Next was Boy and Bicycle (1965) directed by Ridley Scott. A teenaged boy bunks off school and cycles around Hartlepool instead - you'd have to imagine school was pretty dire if this is his preferred pastime. The strteets are empty; the beaches are deserted; the factories are grim. The young man provides a self-consciously assured voice-over in a landscape that seems almost post-apocalyptic.
The tracking shots and building of tension are clearly the director's trademarks and it's interesting to see them in their infancy. Scott was a photography student when he made this, which is apparenty in the perfect composition of the shots. Living in a world where we are bombarded with audio pollution and sensory stimulation, this was almost soporific (perhaps intentially - the revolving spokes of the bicycle wheel being particularly hypnotic), and so we decided to leave the rest for another day.
Later still (in the middle of the night) I watched Liverpool take Birmingham apart. Not only was the 5-0 scoreline (including a hat-trick from Maxi Rodriguez) something to celebrate, but I was hugely encouraged by the way the team played with energy, enthusiasm and something like the passing precision of old. I miss Stevie G, of course, but it's also great to see the 'youngsters' coming through the ranks - Jay Spearing, Jack Robinson and Jack Flanagan all played well and, although they may be tested by tougher opposition, things are finally looking up for the future.
As I walked to church this morning, I saw a lady in her slippers and pyjamas distributing chocolate eggs through her dewy garden. When she saw me she smiled, put her finger to her lips and whispered, 'Shhh, I'm the Easter Bunny'. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she wasn't.
The service at St Paul's was joyful and positive; emotions I could use at present, and naturally, I love a good sing-a-long. An extract from the order of service stated, 'Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and, while it is still dark, begins to sing.' I think that sums it up nicely.
We spent the afternoon in Clyde at the Wine and Food Harvest Festival. As you can tell from the images, a good time was had by all. We came home to rehearse for the show I am directing; Cribbies for the Arrowtown Autumn Festival. It opens a week today, which is more than slightly scary. We went over all the dance moves; many of which I have set, so they are not exactly complicated!
My cold is catching up with me and I woke up this morning with difficulty breathing. It may not have been the best idea, then to walk up Tobin's Track, but friends called up and that's what we did. The views are as glorious as ever and the couple of dogs that we had for company were certainly entertaining. How wonderful to be a dog when everything is fresh and every smell could be an adventure. They bounded up and down and made us all feel tired so we came home to drink coffee and eat chocolate ducks and rabbits.
Another rehearsal in the evening at which we ran the play for the first time without a prompt. Things are coming together and, although I'm doing all I can, I don't know how you can make people learn their lines! And so I came home to a large glass of pinot noir, a warm fire and a hug from Him Outdoors. It's not been a bad Easter weekend.