Kate O’Neill has always loved Shakespeare. In fact, she comes from a long line of Shakespeare lovers ….. her maternal great grandfather was a drama teacher and producer who wrote his own plays and ran residential Shakespeare courses in the summer holidays. Kate’s childhood visits to The Globe Theatre in London with her grandmother left her spellbound by the language, theatricality, history and costumes that she found there.
Fast forward a few years and the adult Kate, now living in Hertfordshire, enjoyed taking part in historical re-enactments at Kentwell Hall in Suffolk, an experience which fuelled her interest in taking on a character. “You see a different side to people when they’re dressed up and in character,” Kate tells me. Together with a group of friends, she went on to hold a very successful read-through of “The Tempest”.
Having recently moved to Cambridge, Kate now plans to replicate that here as a way to get like-minded people together in a collaborative spirit. This will be a very informal group, meeting maybe three or four times a year and it’s for everybody, whether you’re a total Shakespeare nut, a keen drama person or if you don’t know much about any of that but would like to find out more.
The first meeting is on Saturday 3 February at the Salisbury Arms. Kate’s had a good response already and she’s looking forward to finding out which of Shakespeare’s plays people like and to arranging a date and venue for a read-through. Think “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in Kate’s pretty courtyard garden or, should anyone in the group have a property with a balcony, “Romeo and Juliet”. So many possibilities ….. and as The Bard himself wrote, “All the world’s a stage”.
Facebook: Cambridge Shakespeare Read-through Group
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” as the song goes. Well, I’m not so sure about that but I do know that I can never walk past this gorgeous shop in Green Street without pausing to admire the jewellery in the window. And then, quite by chance, I met Harriet at a party over Christmas and she told me her story.
Harriet learned to make jewellery with her father, a doctor who was also a talented goldsmith. With his help, she designed and made her first ring aged four and was hooked from that moment on. In an early sign of her entrepreneurial streak, at the age of eight she and her sister were making earrings from gold wire which they sold initially to friends and later at an artist friend’s stall in Covent Garden. Harriet is dyslexic, although this wasn’t identified until adulthood. Drawn to art, maths and science, she took a degree in Industrial Design and went on to work in the film business, but she never stopped making jewellery in her spare time, working in a shed at the bottom of the garden. When her waiting list got to thirty three people, all of whom had found her by word of mouth, Harriet made the decision to switch career into bespoke jewellery.
Harriet had two aims when she set up her business 20 years ago and they remain her aims today. Firstly, she wants to make bespoke jewellery reachable, offering high quality at affordable prices. The team that you meet in her shops are all designers and delight in telling a customer’s individual story through each commission. There’s also a ready to wear collection which features one off rings and very small runs of pendants, necklaces, earrings and other dress jewellery.
Secondly, for ethical reasons, Harriet prefers to work with fairtrade gold and has been a trailblazer in this field. Having located a gold mine in Colombia which operates on fairtrade principles, she met another jewellery activist and then the Fairtrade Foundation who asked her to advise them on how their process could work for jewellers in the UK. This movement works against child labour, for safety in the mining process and supports women’s rights, education and environmental issues. In buying fairtrade gold, you are supporting artisanal miners who receive a fair price for gold and extra money for their communities, which they are empowered to spend as they wish.
In 2011, Harriet and the Association launched fairtrade gold, now used by around three hundred UK jewellers as well as internationally. The majority of the jewellery in her shops is made of fairtrade gold. She buys diamonds direct from Botswana and Namibia and thoroughly checks the provenance of these and coloured gemstones to ensure that she meets the highest ethical standards possible.
2018 is shaping up to be another busy year for Harriet. As well as her Hertfordshire HQ, a beautiful converted barn with glass walled workshop, showroom, coffee shop and garden, and the Cambridge shop/design studio, Harriet is launching another shop with a design studio in Primrose Hill, north west London later this month. It’s an area she knows well as she and her husband, Tim, used to live there and with the neighbourhood’s mix of independent specialist businesses, it feels like a natural fit. Then there’s the design and production of the new ready to wear collection, pieces from which you can see in the photos through this post.
And Harriet has written a book about starting a creative business. It’ll be published in September and is inspired by her voluntary mentoring of creative businesses, during which she notices common threads with successful entrepreneurs as they combine creativity and innovation to build a viable business. Harriet has received many business and jewellery industry awards in recognition of her innovation and success and I, for one, can’t wait to see what she does next.
e-Luminate returns to the city on 9 February and for six glorious nights, some of our most iconic buildings will be bathed in mesmerising light installations.
For Festival Founder, Alessandra Caggiano, inspiration struck as she walked home through the dark Cambridge streets one evening in 2012. “All this wonderful architecture around me was unlit,” Alessandra tells me, “and I felt it was such a missed opportunity.” Teaming up with business partner, Hugh Parnell, together they set up a community interest company.
“We decided to hold the Festival in February because that’s when we’re all craving light,” says Alessandra, “and the timing also fitted well with the city’s busy event calendar.” They researched light festivals across the world, talked to light artists, consulted with local stakeholders, built a board of advisers, wrote a business plan, obtained funding and put on the first e-Luminate Festival in February 2013.
That pilot event may have been small but it proved their concept and they were able to grow the project year on year. Since September 2016, the Festival has been run under the umbrella of Cambridge Live Trust, which Alessandra believes was the natural next step forward for this very popular event, of which she is now Artistic Director.
This year, the theme of the Festival is “Colour” and Dr James Fox has joined the team as Guest Curator. An art historian, BAFTA nominated broadcaster and Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, James brings his knowledge of and interest in the theme of colour, to explore the complex relationship between light and colour from various perspectives, combining art, science and technology.
Some of Europe’s top light artists and designers will be creating light installations at key buildings in the city, including the Guildhall, King’s College and the Fitzwilliam Museum. A varied programme of events and workshops includes “Let’s Glow Cambridge” (sports and fitness sessions held under UV lights) and a Wine Tasting Experience with Hotel du Vin, during which you can experiment with light and taste to discover whether lighting conditions influence our perceptions of wine. You can even become part of a light installation yourself by joining the “Trail of Light”. Details of all the light installations, these events and more, plus a booking facility, are on the Cambridge Live website.
To get more involved with the Festival, why not volunteer your time as a Light Maker? A variety of roles are available, working on both indoor events and outdoor installations but as I write this post, the team is particularly looking for help on launch night and with the “Trail of Light” events. To find out more and register your interest, please go to www. cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate/opportunities
This is such a fun event and the light installations on our beautiful historic buildings are breathtaking as they highlight architectural details and show us new perspectives. So wrap up warm, take a stroll around the city and you will truly see Cambridge in a new light.
There’s a new stall in the Market on Sundays. It’s bright, colourful, sells beautiful yarns from around the world and makes me want to resurrect my long-dormant knitting skills!
Camilla Carter set up Knitting Needle Lane last autumn, a decision sparked by the closure of her favourite local wool supplier and a family holiday in Cyprus, where she browsed happily in Nicosia’s many yarn shops and then had a light bulb moment. Returning home, Camilla built her website and started selling online. She now also has a regular Sunday market stall where she is enjoying dealing directly with customers as well as being part of the friendly and welcoming market community.
There’s a great selection of yarns on the stall and it’s always changing as Camilla moves with the trends. You’ll find established names such as Sirdar and James C Brett alongside Toft, a contemporary brand, Blossom DK for baby knitting and mixed colour skeins of colourwheel yarn.
From Manos del Uruguay in South America comes hand dyed yarn produced by this non-profit organisation which was founded in 1968 to give rural women jobs in their home towns. You can read more about this fabulous enterprise on http://www.roosteryarns.com/about-manos-del-uruguay
Sourced closer to home, Camilla stocks bespoke hand dyed skeins of yarn from Cambridge resident Jemma Arrowsmith of “Under the Olive Tree”, who also supplies shawl, hat and cowl packs complete with a pattern and yarn in the kit. Camilla also sells knitting needles, crochet hooks, knitting bags and other supplies.
Camilla has been knitting since she was seven years old. Taught by her grandmother and then her mother-in-law, she’s always enjoyed the soothing creativity of this hobby which counterbalances her busy family life and her professional life as founder of Marketing Magic and as joint owner, with husband Stuart, of the wooden window and door company, Cambridge Classics. Now Camilla is planning to pass on her skills at knitting classes held in conjunction with Sewing Daze at Witchford, near Ely. The six week course, open to all from beginner level, will happen on Tuesday evenings starting on 23rd January and costs £30, which includes needles and yarn. Plus there will be tea and Camilla’s home made cake ….. sounds like a pretty perfect evening to me!!
Well, 2018 has dawned in a rather blustery Cambridge but there’s plenty to look forward to in the city this New Year and I will be writing about a lot of it here in the blog.
People have commented to me that there’s always so much going on but it’s hard to keep track of it all, so I’ve decided to create a “What’s On” listing for each month. It’ll show an eclectic mix of events that come to my attention and I’ll update it through the month, so it’ll be worth checking back every so often. And if you’d like to get in touch about an event that could be listed, please do so via my Contact page.
A few foodie thoughts to share for this month ….. if you are giving Veganuary a go, I recommend Stem + Glory, which I profiled in December, for delicious plant based dishes. And please note that The Locker Cafe (see September’s post) is currently closed for a kitchen refit and will reopen on Tuesday 9 January with an expanded weekend brunch menu and live music on Sunday afternoons. Their “Pots for Poverty” sale, which I wrote about in December, raised over £1800 for Jimmy’s Night Shelter and CamCRAG, which is a fabulous achievement. You can find all these posts under Recent Posts or in Archives on the right hand side of this page.
And finally, if your place, like mine, is looking rather dull now that the Christmas decorations are back in the loft, why not nip down to Cambridge Market for some early Spring flowers? These daffodils are from the flower stall opposite Great St Mary’s Church and are grown by the stallholder in Girton. So you can keep it local and remind yourself that Spring is just around the corner!
So here’s the first what’s on listing for the year. I’ll update this through the month so do check back every so often and if you know about an event that could be listed, please get in touch via my Contact page.
Just to remind you that if you want a final skating session at The North Pole on Parker’s Piece, be quick as it shuts on 8th January. And if you haven’t made it to the Degas exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum yet, get there soon as it closes on 14th January – details at http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk
Well, the festive season is well and truly under way here in Cambridge. The streets are bustling and the city looks so pretty, especially after dark with all the Christmas lights twinkling away.
It’s always such a busy time of year but if you’d like to take a break from the hubbub to sing some carols, there are plenty of services around the city. This Saturday 16 December, there will be Carols by Candlelight at Michaelhouse at 3pm and 4pm and there’s another candlelit Carol Service at Great St Mary’s, the University church, on Sunday 17 December at 6.30pm.
And there will, of course, be the world famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 at 3pm on Christmas Eve. It’s always been something of a badge of honour to queue from pre-dawn to get in to this Service but King’s has changed the arrangements this year and will operate a ticketing system, with about 500 tickets available to members of the public. Details are on their website http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk Here’s a clip of the King’s College Choir singing “Once in Royal David’s City”, the carol that always opens the service and which never fails to bring a tear to my eye as I listen to that solo chorister singing like an angel!
So it’s about time that I too got on with some yuletide prep but before I do, I just wanted to thank everybody who has read, liked, followed, shared or commented on my blog and I’m also grateful to my family and friends for their encouragement and support. Since I started writing in September, I’ve met so many interesting people who are doing amazing things here in Cambridge and I feel more connected to the city than ever. I’ve already got plenty of posts in the pipeline for 2018 and I’m excited to see what the New Year will bring.
So here’s wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year. See you in January!!