A day out to the Donmar, and another to Wisley

Sorry for the long postless gap  – we are on the countdown to holiday and there is so much to do… so am concentrating on just two days out. Last Saturday we met some old (like very old) friends of Philosopher and saw a play at the Donmar. This week I had a day out at RHS Wisley with WI chums.


No, those are our roses, not Wisley’s, on the rose arch beside the bomb-site (see last post) in our garden. Actually, the bomb-site has been cleared now by three strong blokes. It is now bare earth, ready for its next adventure. Anyway, back to our theatre trip. Philosopher has a very old fellow Philosopher friend called Jim. The outing was organised by his first wife, Sally. His third wife was also there, plus another couple – Philosopher was at Cambridge with both of them. I can’t remember if I have written about them before – a few months ago we went to meet them for the first time in many, many years, so this was the second occasion. Jim and Sally’s daughter, Laura Hopkins had done the set design for the play, When Winston Went to War with the Wireless.

The play, a new one by Jack Thorne, is about Reith’s conflict with Churchill about portraying both sides of the General Strike. Reith wanted more on the radio about the workers, Reith wanted the BBC to present the government line. Eventually Reith caved in, saying he wanted to ensure the survival of the BBC.  So, what did we think? Well, Laura’s set design was terrific – all about original BBC sound effects for radio. It is specifically mentioned as being good in the reviews of the play – see this one from the Guardian. So, at least we could praise that to the proud parents with a clear conscience. However, the play? Not so great. There was enough in the real Reith’s character – an upright, moral Scottish Calvinist, to build a good plot around in itself, but no, the plot was almost hijacked with a sub-plot about Reith being gay, and some very pointless business about him marrying the woman his gay lover had wanted to marry. Eh? The net result was that the General Strike itself was glossed over, Reith came over as a tortured weedy-wet, and Churchill was too sketchily portrayed… There was just far too much going on.

The set – it looks sparse but was terriffic.

Had never been to the Donmar before. It is sort of theatre in the round – well, three sides, anyway. It was very crowded and felt quite cramped. We did wonder what would happen if there was a fire… ‘Shouting ‘Fire’ in a crowded theatre is what philosophers talk about when they are talking about Free Speech.

After the play we all went to a Chinese restaurant in Gerrard Street for a meal. A good day. By chance, we discovered it was the Kings Birthday Parade day when we were strolling along a street in Covent Garden. All at once we were nearly deafened by a load of planes flying right over us. We couldn’t see them because of the buildings – just heard this deafening roaring. Quite dramatic.

So, Wisley. Battleaxe has been before almost exactly a year ago, with Philosopher (see this post). This time, it was the big annual outing of our WI – a coach trip. Unfortunately on the day not that many women attended – I don’t know if they were put off by a long journey on the M25, or the potential walking around the gardens – hard to tell. Still, it was their loss, because it was a lovely day and the journeys were not actually too bad at all. This year, the roses were looking fabulous – they are good everywhere, including in our garden.

I wandered round with friend Jan. Had a tasty curry for lunch at something called the One World Cafe. I remember from our previous visit that the main food hall was absolutely rammed and not that nice. This time, we found the Bonsai walk and we went in the greehouses.

Of course, spent ages in the shop and the plant centre. I want a proper blue hydrangea. Last time they sold me something that they said was blue but it turned out pinky purple. This time, they could only produce the same one.

Here are a couple of final photos.

Dodgy selfie



  1. Jacqueline Scales
    June 24, 2023 / 4:33 pm

    I may be wrong but I think the blue colour of a hydrangea is caused by the acidity of the soil rather than being able to buy one that colour.

    • June 29, 2023 / 2:30 pm

      You can get ones that are pretty blue to start with, but you have to take steps to keep them that way – water with rain water, etc.

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