Friday, 16 June 2017

Father’s Day – Where did it come from?

It’s almost Father’s Day, so we thought we’d find out how it all began. Who came up with Father’s Day, and when was the first Father’s Day?

Although disputed by some, it’s generally accepted that the idea for Father’s Day came on the heels of Mother’s Day (not to be confused with Mothering Sunday).

It’s believed that Sonora Dodd came up with the idea of Father’s Day after listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in Washington in 1910. As Sonora and her five brothers were brought up by their father in a single-parent family (after her mother died in childbirth), she resolved that fathers needed recognition for the role they played, and campaigned to have a special day, like Mother’s Day, which would be devoted to thanking fathers. With the help of her local YMCA and the Ministerial Association of Spokane (a city near her birthplace), Sonora worked hard to have an official Father’s Day formally recognised.

The first Father’s Day was celebrated on June the 19th in 1910 in Spokane, but in the 1920s the holiday was rather forgotten. It gained popularity again over time though, and in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a presidential proclamation making the third Sunday in June Father’s Day. In 1972 President Nixon permanently established the third Sunday as a holiday to be observed nationally.

Of course, what starts in America, often ends up in the UK. Hence why we also have Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June each year.  

So what should you do (according to tradition) to celebrate your father/grandfather/stepfather etc on Father’s Day? That depends on what country you’re from.

In some regions in Germany it’s traditional for groups of men to go into the woods with beer, wine, meat (a barbecue in other words) and have a good time relaxing and drinking. 

In Mexico some father’s take part in the 21km race in Mexico City – the “Carrera Dia del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan”. (Personally I’m sure most fathers would prefer breakfast in bed than a grueling running race on their special day, but each to their own.)

In Thailand the King gives an annual speech and it is traditional for Thais to give their fathers and grandfathers the Canna flower, which is thought to have masculine associations.  

Whatever country you’re from, the general consensus is that on Father’s Day, fathers should get a treat of some kind. Whether that is being taken out for a meal, a gift, a card, or even just a phone call to say “thanks and I’m thinking of you”.  

(In Bath for Father’s Day? We can recommend Sunday lunch at the Boater, a round of golf at Bath pitch and putt course at Entry Hill, or an afternoon at the Bath Festival of Motoring which is on this weekend.)

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Bed, Breakfast, Bath, and Theatre!

A top night out for anyone coming to Bath has to be taking in a show at Bath’s beautiful Theatre Royal...

With this is mind, and given as how the new season’s programme for the Theatre Royal has just been released, we thought we’d dedicate this week’s blog post to giving you a run-down of the shows that are sure to sell-out fast.  

Driving Miss Daisy
Wednesday 6th September – Saturday 9th September
You might have seen it as a film, but it doesn’t compare to seeing it on the stage. This new production (with Dame Sian Phillips and RSC actor Derek Griffiths) bring such great levels of emotion and depth to the story of the life-altering friendship between 72-year-old widow Daisy Werten and her African American chauffeur Hoke Colburn in 1950s Atlanta.

The Real Thing
Monday 18th September – Saturday 30th September
This play shows off playwright Tom Stoppard’s writing at its dazzling, tender, and witty best. “A play that reminds you why you go to the theatre and why you fall in love. And why, sometimes, it is all worth the effort.” – The Spectator. Starring Laurence Fox, The Real Thing is a modern classic. 

How The Other Half Loves
Monday 2nd October – Saturday 7th October
Only a short stay for this production, so if you’re a fan of Alan Ayckbourn’s plays this is one to book up fast. This tale of matrimonial mishaps was London’s funniest comedy of 2016, and follows Bob and Fiona who, while trying to cover up their affair, manage to trap William and Mary Featherstone in the middle of the confusion. This makes the two following dinner parties utter utter disasters (but very funny for all who are not involved).

A Judgement in Stone
Monday 20th November – Saturday 25th November
Agatha Christie’s novels always do incredibly well when performed as stage adaptations, so with this taste for classic thrillers in the theatre in mind Simon Brett and Anthony Lampard have taken Ruth Rendell’s hugely popular A Judgement in Stone, and adapted it for the stage. In brief; Eunice joins a wealthy family as their housekeeper, but before long the deeply-buried reason for her awkwardness, which has stopped her from fitting in for so many years, is revealed. With dire consequences.  

The Play That Goes Wrong
Monday 12th February – Saturday 17th February
Back again following a sold-out run in Bath earlier this year, The Play That Goes Wrong won the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy; the 2015 Broadway World UK award for Best New Play; and is currently “causing chaos” on Broadway. The New York Times called it “a gut-busting hit”. Sometimes plays don’t deserve all the hype they garner. This one really really does. If you can get a ticket to see this amazing farce, do it!

So, to sum up; with so many fantastic plays coming up later this year, it’s surely time to book a stay with us at Dukes Hotel and partake of a weekend (or mid-week) theatre break… Yes?

Friday, 2 June 2017

Bath and Sheridan’s Elopement!

Bath has had its fair share of famous faces throughout the years, but while Jane Austen’s time in Bath has gone down in history, another writer, Richard Sheridan, had a rather remarkable time in the city as well…

Richard Sheridan found his time in Bath to be life-changing, because it was in Bath that he met and fell in love with the woman who he stole away to France and later married…

On the 18th of March 1772 Sheridan helped Elizabeth Linley to run away from her family home to escape the amorous advances of Captain Mathews – a man who would not take no for an answer. Sheridan promised to escort Eliza to France to a convent. However, while on the journey he admitted that he was in love with her. Sheridan and Eliza eloped and married near Calais, but as both were underage they kept their marriage a secret and Eliza entered a convent in Lille for the time being. Unfortunately, her father learnt where she was and came to take her home.

With the marriage still a secret, Sheridan followed her back to Bath and asked for Eliza’s hand in marriage from her father. He was underage and not rich. Sheridan’s father and Eliza’s father both agreed that the couple should be separated. The couple did not agree.

It was a courtship of many months, conducted against the wishes of both sets of parents, but Sheridan persisted. By October 1772 Sheridan had come of age (21) and went to ask for Eliza’s hand once more. Once more he was denied. He decided to ask Eliza’s father every day for her hand in marriage and watched her perform in the evenings (she and her sister were successful oratorio singers) and disguised himself as a coachman so he could escort her back to her lodgings. 

This lasted for months until, with Eliza threatening to take her own life if she was not allowed to marry Richard, her father agreed to the wedding, and the couple were married on the 13th of April 1773. 

Quite a courtship!

Now to the reason that Sheridan is the subject of our blog post this week.

William Beckford lived in Bath from 1822 until his death in 1844, and was a patron of the arts, a
critic, a writer, and at one stage was said to be the richest commoner in England. We mention Beckford in this blog about Sheridan in Bath because Beckford’s Tower and Museum hosts a quarterly book group which explores writings that are (loosely) related to the work of William Beckford. The work which is the topic of the next book group meeting, taking place on this Thursday (8th June 2017 at 7pm), is Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals.

The Beckford book group is open to anyone and everyone (even those who haven’t read the book (or in this case, play)); all that you need is to pay £5 on the door, and “to be interested in enjoying an evening of talks from experts, interesting discussions, tea, coffee (maybe wine).”  

“At the Beckford Book Group you can, as always, look forward to lovely discussion, drinks, nibbles and our now-traditional themed cakes.” Cake. A night of amateur theatrics, sounds good to us.