This should be an easy blog post to write. But we are finding it hard. Which is why a week after our visit we still haven't put pen to paper...or finger to keypad.
We just don't know where to start! We had heard it was good, but we didn't realise just how good! Don't get us wrong...it was not some sky high tent with acrobats throwing themselves from tightropes, caged lions and a beauty on an elephant type of a circus but that's not what we expected and that's not what we wanted! This was different, this was a little slice of magic.
Of course we are talking about Giffords Circus. The Cotswold circus which has become a summer must do.
Giffords Circus was founded by Nell Gifford and her husband in Folly Farm,Bourton-on-the-Water in 2000. The idea was to create a small, local, travelling, family circus with a vintage feel and that is just what you get. Nell is in charge of everything from producing the show through to selling programmes during the interval and her creativity and hands on approach has clearly paid off, with the circus growing in popularity and success each year. The circus is even popular with famous faces, Vivienne Westwood and Marco Pierre White being some names who have visited. We expect Vivienne was there to see the wonderful costumes designed by creators to the stars and films such as Lindsy Pugh and Penny Rose. They must have been in their creative element this year with the Greek Mythology theme.
We arrived to a celebratory picnic at 6:30pm on Minchinhampton common. It was windy, it was cold but that was ok, a real British picnic! A selection of pork pies, breads, cheeses and a bottle of Proseco later and we were in. We left it till the last minute to go into the circus which you may not want to do as there was nowhere for all 10 of us to sit together. The girls were more than willing to help us find seats dotted around but we asked if we could stand at the top which we are so pleased we did! This gave us the opportunity to energetically get involved, dancing, singing, sharing laughs and comments and we could see EVERYTHING. Having said that there wouldn't have been a seat in the tent where you couldn't have seen everything as it is so intimate.
Tweedy the clown was there to warm the audience up. Think of Tweedy as more of a child friendly Lee Evans comedy act rather than your traditional clown! Just comedy gold. This is our friend Kate loving life during one of Tweedy's sketches.
All the cast were dressed in ethereal Greek dress and the story line behind the show was based on Greek myths. Expect contortionist Medusas and giant wooden horses.
The live band appeared on stage and provided the music throughout. From Jazz to opera these guys were multi-talented.
The audience were involved during the show and it was clear both adult and children alike loved being picked from the crowd to join in. We even went into the ring for some dancing at the end!
With a circus, you expect animals. Maybe, not elephants in head dresses anymore but still animals. From this years posters spread all across The Cotswolds we were expecting dogs but when two gorgeous spotty Dalmatians came trotting out none of us could contain our excitement. They were adorable and so talented. Followed by two beautiful spotty horses (sticking with the spotty theme here throughout) and then a further two little dogs and the cutest Shetland pony. They were all so entertaining to watch, I mean who couldn't crack a smile when seeing a rescue dog happily riding a Shetland pony and dancing Dalmatians. They are clearly very well looked after, like any pets, they love their owners very much and seemed so happy on the stage showing off their amazing talents. The Giffords Circus team cleverly replied to any cynics through a little skit explaining the dogs are all rescuse dogs which just fills your heart with love - gone are the days of cages animals at the circus. We even saw the dogs having a good old run around during the interval, they were in their element.
Whilst we are on the subject of animals how could we not mention the Gifford Turkey? Playing lead role of the oracle The Turkey looked into the future to answer questions from the audience. This improvised sketch was absolutely hilarious. But one of our favourite moments was the entrance of The Goose who waddled around the ring followed by a miniture sausage dog. Brilliant!
Giffords Circus has definitely become our new yearly tradition, we just loved it so much we're already excited for next years production. We would also love to try Circus Sauce, Giffords Circus pop up restaurant serving 42 covers a three course meal in the magical tent. We've heard great things about the food, all ingredients are sourced locally, apparently delicious and for £25 a head, it's great value for what would be a unique dining experience. The table set up is very vintage with mismatched bottles with candles and vintage style crockery. A must next year! I may accidentally break all of my tea cups over the next 12 months to have an excuse to buy a full set of Emma Bridgewater (Nell's sister - creativity must run in the family) Gifford Circus Mugs. You can buy these in addition to other fab merchandise at the travelling shop.
Follow the talented team at Gifford Circus on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram here. The Thunder Tour is soon coming to an end but if you do get a chance to visit the circus this year in Stroud, please do! If not, put next years dates in the diary so you don't miss this incredible Cotswold show. Truly magical!
Millie and Meg x