From May to September the most fantastic circus tours the countryside and last year also included Chiswick House in London for some performances. The creation of an Oxford graduate who followed her dream. Nell Gifford and her husband Toti. As a family we love Giffords. It is creative and original. The costumes are all handmade, the scenery painted in the barns on Nell and Totis’ Fennell’s Farm in Gloucestershire. There are no cruel animal acts just good old fashioned horses, dogs, farmyard birds and a basketful of doves. Trained on the farm at home. The acts are traditional acrobats, magicians, tap dancers,tightrope walkers, stunt riders, illusionists and gymnasts but all with an original edge. There are a few much loved regulars Bibi and Bichou the juggling act who have now added 13 Ethiopian acrobatic relatives to the entourage. The magician Odoroff was the very stylish ringmaster this year. The highlight of the show is Tweedy the clown much loved by everyone in the audience from farmers to rockstars, pensioners to school children.
Each year the performance has a theme and a story which is the basis of the season. My first Giffords experience was War and Peace. There was a romantic Russian element as soon as you entered the Big Top. The walls of the tent were covered in storytelling scripts it was completely absorbing. From that moment on we were hooked.
The animals are an integral part of the show and trained at Fennells Farm. There is sometimes a collaboration of creativity. This year Phillip Treacy designed a collection of turban like hats and since 2012 Cal Mc Crystal who credits include Paddington Bear and One Man Two Governors has worked with the production team. It is steeped in creativity which obviously runs deep. Nell’s sister is the highly creative Emma Bridgewater. During the interval you can get a lovely hot cup of tea from a gigantic Emma Bridgewater teapot and home made brownies to keep you going. Once you are revived everyone eagerly returns to the big tent to sit on the long benches in great anticipation. The stories are woven into the show and accompanied by the on stage band. The whole Giffords experience feels very personal. Nell historically makes a grand entrance on horseback and each year we look forward to this as it is with great style and her presence is paramount. I have great admiration for her immense creativity and vision. This years theme is The Painted Wagon a wild west story. I am confident this will be a lively ‘whip cracking and ‘hellraisin performance !! Check it out and get your tickets early at Giffords Circus