Ladies and gentlemen of Winchester, spring has nearly sprung! And it’s about time too. According to the astronomical definition, the first official day of Spring in 2015 is on March 20th. Some of you will be celebrating this momentous burst of growth and sunshine with the Winchester duathlon on Sunday March 22nd which this year is being held at Lainston House. It’s a 2.5km run, a 7.5km bike race and a further 2.5km run, followed by a private bbq. Billy the falconer will be on hand with his birds of prey to keep the children (and adults) entertained.
Others might prefer to celebrate with the CAMRA Winchester Real Ale and Cider Festival, which is being held at the Winchester Guildhall on Friday 20th & Saturday 21st March. Tickets are running low so do book in advance to avoid disappointment. There will be tutored beer-tasting sessions available introduced by writer and beer expert Adrian Tierney-Jones and over a hundred different real ales, ciders, perries and foreign bottled beers to behold.
Mum’s the word on Sunday 15th March, and the Watercress line is offering a traditional afternoon cream tea onboard a steam train. Don’t forget to order some spring flowers from the divinely named Mills in Bloom Florists & Vintage Interiors, where Mother’s Day local deliveries are available all day on Saturday 14th March. Other gifts on offer include vintage items, pictures, glassware & china. The aforementioned Lainston House will be offering a homely 17th century barn or 3AA Rosette awarded restaurant lunch, and a champagne tea. All guests attending the three-course Sunday lunch will also be treated to a free falconry display. The Winchester Hotel and Spa are also planning lunch or afternoon tea treats, with a prize draw to win a luxury spa day for two. The whole party will receive a free glass of fizz – or non-alcoholic fizz for the kids and non-drinkers. And the day can be rounded off with a few giggles at the Theatre Royal Winchester which will be presenting Richard Herring and his take on death, love, religion and spam javelins at 8pm.
The Cathedral’s newly refurbished and relaunched Refectory will be hosting a special evening on the 13th March at 7pm to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma. Tickets are £40 and include a glass of sparkling wine on arrival, a three-course meal and tea or coffee. After dinner, Dr Nigel Paterson will give an illustrated talk about Austen and what we know about her from circa 1815. Some ideas will also be given about following in Jane’s footsteps around places she would have known 200 years ago. Dr Nigel Paterson regularly gives after-dinner talks about Jane Austen and other topics of cultural interest. Educated at Winchester College and then Jesus College, Cambridge, he was later a Senior Lecturer in English for the University of Winchester.
Les Petits Theatre’s Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs will be on offer for young theatre fans at the Theatre Royal between Wed 25th – Thurs 26th March (Wed 4pm & Thurs 1.30pm, 4pm). And if you’re keen to ‘cultivate’ your kid, don’t forget to call into the City Museum, which has plenty available for children such as sorting artefacts like an archaeologist, brass rubbing, Anglo-Saxon pot design, quizzes and the opportunity to try on all sorts of period costumes and see what you’d look like as a Roman, a Saxon, a Victorian gent or an Edwardian lady. Adults welcome too! The museum has just acquired a large collection of locally collected archaeological items, due to go on display in Autumn 2015.
Finally, our editor recommends the Yorke Dance Project ‘Figure Ground 2015’ at the Theatre Royal on 24th March. Founded by dancer-turned-choreographer Yolande Yorke-Edgell, the company’s lush and lively mixed bill features the quartet Lingua Franca, the first new work in a decade by the American-born UK modern dance giant Robert Cohan OBE. No spring chicken but still a sharp-witted creative, Cohan turns 90 on March 27th. The programme also includes Yorke-Edgell herself in the revival of a Cohan solo dating from 1978, a sextet by the promising (and, at 17, certifiably young) Charlotte Edmonds and a septet by Yorke-Edgell set against a computer-animation backdrop. You can read more on the company and its work later this month on this website, but for now we can all start to kick up our heels in anticipation of the impending season.