The Minack Theatre: a worthy bucket list addition

Two photographs caught my eye when I was flicking through a very old copy of the National Geographic magazine.

The first was a photograph of the Minack Theatre (a famous open-air theatre in Britain):

Photo of Minack Theatre
The Minack Theatre, courtesy of the Minack Theatre
Photo of Rowena Cade relaxing in a wheelbarrrow
Rowena Cade relaxing in a wheelbarrow, courtesy of the Minack Theatre

The second photograph in the same article was of an elderly woman, Rowena Cade, sitting in an upright wheelbarrow. I’d never thought of using a wheelbarrow as a seat, but it looks pretty comfy!!

Between 1931 and 1983 (when she died) Rowena Cade planned, built and financed the Minack (in Cornish this means ‘a rocky place’) Theatre. This stunning theatre is carved into the granite rocks of Porthcurno in Cornwall.

An extract from the Minack Theatre’s website describes how this was built by Rowena Cade and two men:

“During that first winter of 1931-32, she laboured as apprentice to her gardener Billy Rawlings and his mate Charles Thomas Angove. Using the skills of the two men, granite was cut by hand from a pile of tumbled boulders. Stones were inched into place. The terraces were in-filled with earth, small stones and pebbles shovelled down from the higher ledges. All this work took place on the slope above a sheer drop into the Atlantic.”

Rowena had a superb mix of qualities including creativity, foresight, ingenuity, and sheer determination. She overcame so many obstacles: a challenging location; physical constraints; a world war where resources, money and materials were scarce; and age (she worked on the theatre until her mid-eighties!).

What an inspiring woman and what a remarkable achievement! Just the sort of inspiration many of us in Christchurch like to hear about now that we are faced with a long rebuild journey ahead of us.

The Minack Theatre has been added to my bucket list. If you have included an inspirational addition to your bucket list lately I’d love to hear about it.

Logo of the National Geographic Virtual LibraryAside from the National Geographic magazines that you can find in our libraries, library members can also access the digital archive of the National Geographic magazine. Coverage is from 1888 onwards up until the most recent issues and includes articles, maps and photos. The National Geographic Virtual Library is a fantastic resource to browse through.

Thank you to Phil Jackson, Theatre Manager of the Minack Theatre, for providing permission to use the images contained in this blog post.

Rubbish reads

Cover of Jordan: A whole new world
Jesse Foot, library manager at Bodmin Library in Cornwall, has been encouraging library users to vote for their most hated books with the aim to create a display of these despicable literary offerings. This follows the successful launch of some creatively titled new library sections, forget boring old “Recent Returns” or passé “Staff Picks”, Bodmin has “Books that we hate”, “Books to help you fall asleep” and “Great classics or boring books”. Genius! Cornish librarians, for the record, particularly hated autobiographies by Jordan and Michael Barrymore, and The Insider: The private diaries of a scandalous decade by Piers Morgan. Piers Morgan hit back, describing librarians as “Unutterably tedious, nasal-twanging, tank-top wearing little nerds.” Sadly accurate but dude don’t dis the tank-top. To be fair he also said “that if I saw a shelf stacked with stuff they hated, I’d want to read those books immediately”.

So to get the ball rolling here are a few hates I’d like to share:

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Mr Brown leaves no “i” undotted and no “t” uncrossed. The literary equivalent of painting by numbers.
  • Anything by JeffreyArcher. I know, I know an easy target but I believe a valid one. Just dreadful.
  • Any novel with the word “panties” in it. Icky and wrong.
  • Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi. A personal watershed and the moment I realised that it was selfish to read cook books in bed.

Don’t be shy, put the boot in……….