Author Archives: Simon Browning

Pantomime 2023!

Yes good people of North Luffenham it’s happening again. Following last years outstanding thespianic event, and having now been given the final medical all clear for those cast members who suffered frostbite as a result of their heroic efforts in the frozen wastes of The Fox Outdoor Theatre we are pleased to announce the start of this years BAFTA Award entry.

I know literally hundreds of people have been queueing at the Stage Door of the Fox throughout the year to take part in this years extravaganza. So please anyone who would like to participate, be it on stage (or ice rink if last year is anything to go by!), or behind the scenes, (lighting, scenery, sound etc.) please come along to the first planning meeting at 7.00 on Thursday 12th October in the upstairs rehearsal rooms at The Fox. No acting ability is required, just a willing heart and soul and a desire to take part in one of the country’s best pantomimes of 2023. Many have said last years effort cannot be repeated, many have demanded that last years effort is not repeated! Not only will it be repeated, I know it will be surpassed with all your brilliant input.

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible on 12th October.

Simon Browning

Garden Dining Table for sale

We have a 6 seater dining table for sale. (No chairs, just the table) It is pretty much brand new and unused as we now have two of them! (long story!) It has a grey metal base with a hard acacia wooden top. We only need one table and hence we are offering this one to the first person who offers a reasonable price for it. The full set of table and 6 chairs was in the region of £1500 and we are selling just the table. The table is flat packed but the top is fully assembled and just needs 7 bolts fitting to secure the base to the top. It is an excellent value table and will make a brilliant garden dining table for someone. Buyer will need to collect. If you are interested please contact me on

A memorable night in North Luffenham – Oh Yes It Was!!!

Forget dancing on ice. Forget Strictly. Last night The villagers of North Luffenham witnessed Pantomime on Ice! And what a night it was! From a garish pantomime dame to a wicked villain selling very dodgy stuff this pantomime did everything it set out to do.

The car park at The Fox was heaving with Christmas spirit filled revellers who embraced the whole evening and joined in with the cast in the general mayhem and revellry.

Yes, the weather was cold but the atmosphere was so full of warmth and fun and the feedback from everyone has been so generous. We have already turned our thoughts to next year and early suggestion are either a modern version of Scot of The Antarctic or possibly Frozen! It was also suggested that if the World Cup can be held in winter then maybe the pantomime can be staged in Summer! In this village anything can be made possible!

If anyone captured any of the evening on photos it would be great to see them and add them to the Village Archives and to the website. So if you have photos and would like to share them please Whatsapp them to me on 07774456788. Thank you in advance.

I really must say a massive thank you to the fantastic cast and associated team who made this all possible. I won’t single out any one member of the cast as everyone was just so brilliant. From our first get together to the actual performance the enthusiasm and general desire to put on something we and the village as a whole could be proud of just built and built. So a truly massive thank you to you all. Also thank you to KayBee Developments for the loan of the lights that made the Ice Rink we acted on so much more visible! A massive thanks to Liz Caffarelli for the wonderful make up. (Sue made me take it off before going to bed last night. Apparently waking up in the same make up you went out in the night before is not the done thing!) And then thank you to Graham Madgwick for providing the sound system and controlling the music so well. Thank you also to Lin for serving up lashings of hot mulled wine that kept the frost bite at bay and to the bar staff at The Fox for keeping the audience well topped up throughout!

My final thank you goes to Jason for everything he did to facilitate the pantomime at The Fox. He put in a tremendous amount of work for this pantomime both before and on the day to prepare the stage and generally create a great atmosphere for everyone on the night, and not least to break it all down afterwards.

To all involved then a huge thank you, and to all who came on the night a huge thank as well. We all loved putting this on for you and we all hope you loved it just as much!!

Have a great Christmas and remember to open a tin of beans with your Christmas dinner. Who knows, you may just get three wishes!

It’s here at last! It’s Pantomime Day!

Friday 7.30pm at The Fox

‘j’ and The Beans Talk

So, after just 4 rehearsals, mostly in sub zero temperatures, our intrepid cast have finally reached the day of the one and only performance of the pantomime.

Tonight at 7.30 in the car park at The Fox you will be able to witness feats of thespian skills that could only be dreamed of by the likes of Sir Lawrence Olivier, Roger Moore and Dame Judi Dench. You just can’t afford to miss this one folks!

The performance will take place in the car park so please make sure you wrap up warm. We had hoped for a heat wave but it doesn’t look likely. The good news is there is no rain or snow forecast! To help keep you warm there will be copious amounts of mulled wine on sale as well as, of course, the wonderful array of beverages at the bar.

As mentioned before, there is no charge as such to see this extravaganza but there will be a bucket collection taken during and after the performance so please do bring lots of cash with you and fill those buckets!! The collection will, in a small part, help cover pantomime costs but more importantly it will go towards our two wonderful village organisations, The Good Companions and The Good Neighbour Scheme, both of whom do such sterling work for the people of this village. So please do show your appreciation and give generously to help these causes.

We, the cast can’t wait to put this pantomime on for you. Everybody has worked so hard to make this happen. What a great way to get Christmas really started. The pub will be open for Pre Theatre Drinks as usual so do get there early and bag yourself the best positions.

We will start at 7.30 prompt. See you there. Don’t miss it!!

Pantomime – The Final Countdown!

Yesterday saw the intrepid cast of this theatrical behemoth retreat indoors for their latest rehearsal. All the cast are so mindful of the need to preserve their voices for “the big day.” The last thing we want is a cast who have all lost their voices (I’m told that in theatrical circles this is known as a pantomime hoarse!) They all promise to be in sparkling condition to perform for you all on Friday.

So, the insider information is that all is going far far better than the production team either expected or dared to hope. Costumes have started to appear, ideas have started to gel and the cast have actually started acting!! They actually now know where to be at certain times (whether they will be there or not is an eternal mystery only to be revealed on the night!). Music has made an appearance and some of the jokes have been, for obvious reasons, revised!

Our baddy has upped his game beyond all belief and is now the baddest baddy in baddydom, so plenty of boos when he appears please! And what about the beans?

So, Friday looms. Are you ready? It promises to be such a brilliant fun evening. See you all there!!

Pantomime on Ice!!!

What a blockbuster we’ve got for you! Last night saw the intrepid cast of the Village Pantomime venture out for a full outside rehearsal in the car park at The Fox. In sub zero temperatures the incredibly brave thespians demonstrated just why they are going to be so good next Friday and just how dedicated they are to bringing you the theatre experience of the year. It is rumoured that Netflix are now interested in developing a six part mini series about the development of the production and an insight into the lives of the cast! With teeth chattering and limbs falling off they bravely stormed through a full rehearsal to the obvious bemusement of passers by. No one reported any signs of hypothermia or frost bite so this was a big positive! Such is the dedication of this hardy band of travelling players striving to put on what is going to be a fantastic event for you all next Friday. The goods news is the weather forecast for the 16th is dry and positively balmy compared to last night.

A couple more rehearsals before the event but then we will be ready to give to you this first ever Pantomime staged in the Village. We can’t wait and we hope you can’t wait either!

Pantomime and the World Cup

I have been asked by someone in the village whether there is a World Cup game on Friday 16th that might clash with our village pantomime. I have this morning contacted Alladiani Pantomimino, the Chair of the organisers of the World Cup, Fefa Fifa Fofa Fumfa, and he has confirmed that there are no World Cup matches on that night. He had been made aware of our pantomime and had deliberately arranged the schedule so as to avoid our pantomime! All remains on course for a great evening!

Pantomime Update 12 days to go!

Oh my word! So the latest news is that there has now been a full run through rehearsal which has required several changes! We have had to take out the high flying trapeze act following the leading boy landing in a neighbour’s garden and not wishing to repeat this. Also removed is the fire juggling, but the cast member has reassured me that her hair will grow back by a week on Friday! It is certainly looking like a festive pot pourri of acting will be on display. I have been contacted by several main west end productions to see if we can contribute to their productions but the whole of the cast have remained steadfastly loyal to this Christmas extravaganza so it really is an event not to be missed!

I have been asked by several people if they can reserve seats, and, are all the private boxes taken already. The simple fact is there are no tickets on sale but you just need to turn up on the night and bag a front row seat or standing spot outside the pub at the back. Remember to wrap up warm. The pantomime will start somewhere between 7.30 and 7.45 and it really will be an event (to remember!)

There will be a voluntary collection taken to assist with costs of the pantomime with all proceeds after that going to help village groups so please do give generously on the night.

We are so looking forward to sharing a really fun night with you all so keep that date firmly in your diary. More updates as they happen.

P.S. If anyone sees a stray camel wandering around the village he escaped from our rehearsal as he was being transported back to Chester Zoo. Please let me know if you see him!

North Luffenham Village Pantomime 16th December

Yet another unmissable event in North Luffenham this year. What a way to kick off the Christmas Festivities. Friday 16th sees the first ever village pantomime in North Luffenham. ‘J’ and the Beans Talk!! The venue is the Grand Theatre, better known as The Fox.
A great evening is on the cards with true pantomime fun on show for everyone. Please make a date in your diary and start Christmas off in a way that only this village can. We have a dame, we have a leading boy, we have a love story, we have wheeling and dealing, and guess what? they all live happily ever after! You can’t afford to miss this one!
See you there. (Oh yes we will!)

North Luffenham 1st Ever Pantomime!

What a way to kick off the Christmas festivities for this year. A newly commissioned lightweight pantomime especially for North Luffenham is now written and all we need is a cast! We have had several people come forward already but to make this happen we would love more people to come forward to take part. It will be a one off special at a the Fox on 16th December so the time scale is short.
The really important thing here is that you just need enthusiasm and certainly the level of acting skill required will not be high! If you ever took part in your school nativity play you will most likely have about the right skill level, especially if you were a sheep or something similar!
It promises to be great fun for all taking part so please do volunteer. We are holding a first meeting for anyone interested in taking part or helping out at 7.00 in The Fox this Thursday 3rd November.
More news will appear here as it did with the platinum jubilee.
In the meantime please put a date in your diary for 16th December for the Great North Luffenham Pantomime,
If you would like to assist but can’t make this Thursday pleases email me at to let me know.
Here’s looking forward to a really great fun event.

North Luffenham Bids Farewell to the Jubilee!

It may have rained overnight Saturday and in the morning of Sunday as heavily as many have seen in recent weeks, but that didn’t deter North Luffeham villagers from turning out in their droves for one last Jubilee Bash! The wet weather put paid to the planned Street Party, as was the case for many other events locally, but that didn’t dampen spirits, and the party was moved to The Fox where many gathered in the car park to listen to the brilliant Jubilee Jazz playing out the event through the afternoon – a big thank you to them, and generally sharing stories of the previous three days and looking forwards to planning for more events to come.

Prize giving saw prizes going to Peace Crawford for winning the Horseshoe Hunt, Molly the Springer Spaniel for winning the Judges Choice in the The Dog Show, and Pilton Road for winning the First North Luffenham Inter Street Tug O’ War. Congratulations to the winners, and a massive thank you to all who took part in all the competitions over the four days.

Earlier in the day the Good Companions supporters had assembled and delivered lunch boxes consisting of savouries and a cream tea for the members of The Good Companions. Given the poor weather conditions, it was not possible for many to attend the final event.

The event closed with a Jubilee Toast and a rousing rendition of The National Anthem. As people drifted away, the sounds of laughter and happiness could be heard resounding around the place. Truly a great four days!

The event started Thursday evening with the church bells being rung out across the village. This was such a great moment and the ringers said, at the time, they would dearly love it if some of us were to take up bell ringing so that we could ring our own bells in the future. I am really pleased to report that a good number of people said they would love to learn to ring the bells and so it is my intention to set up some lessons with the “professionals” so we can all learn. If you are also interested in learning to bell ring please do let me know ( The more, the merrier! Watch this space for announcements. What a great legacy for the Jubilee Weekend that would be.

This whole weekend has been, in my opinion, a triumph for the village as a whole and it has been lovely to see so many people out and about around the village. I have given out so many thank you’s to all those who have contributed. But, at the risk of repeating myself I would like to say, one last time, a massive thank you to all the team who helped get this event up and running, and to the many volunteers who worked behind the scenes to keep things on track. As a village we put on one of the best Jubilee Celebrations in Rutland, and certainly one of the best attended so a huge thank you to you all for turning out and supporting all the events in such great numbers.

This is the last official news bulletin. It has been great fun keeping everyone up to date on what was happening. I hope you have enjoyed the reports. So, until the next event, stay well, stay safe, and see you all around the village!

North Luffenham Jubilee Street Party – Final Decision Made!

The street cleaners went on much longer than expected and have drenched everywhere. We have therefore changed the style of todays closing event. We will no longer hold a Street Party along Church Street as originally planned. (The street is now open to traffic again)

We will hold a final Jubilee festive get together at The Fox, in the car park in the same way as we did on Thursday night at the opening of celebrations. This will be from 2.00-4.00. Prize giving for the Tug O’ War, the Dog Show and the Horseshoe Hunt will take place at 3.45 followed by a final Jubilee Toast and the extinguishing of the Jubilee Flame, closing with the National Anthem.

I am really sorry we have had to curtail the final event but, from what I have seen of everyone in North Luffenham over the last three days I am sure you will all come out at 2.00 to enjoy the jazz, grab a drink from the bar, and generally send this final Jubilee event off with a massive festive hurrah!

Thank you all for making these four days such memorable ones for the village!

We are really looking forward to seeing you all at 2.00 at The Fox for one more bout of Jubilee merriment and laughter!

North Luffenham Platinum Jubilee Street Party – Street Cleaning Currently Taking Place!

As you wake and look out of your windows you may feel an air of despair at the state of the weather. But don’t panic – this is merely an episode of “Street Cleaning” that we ordered prior to the main event later in the day! Our only concern at the moment is that the contractors we have used to clean the streets are notoriously unreliable and have been known to overrun on their cleaning schedules. I have tried to ring their head office this morning to see when they will stop applying water to the Streets of North Luffenham but it would appear their offices are closed for the Bank Holiday and therefore I can not currently get any guarantee as to when the streets will dry out!

Our aim is, therefore, to remain as flexible as possible this morning with a belief that we will stage the street party in some form at a venue to be confirmed as the morning pans out. So please do keep watching the website for updates as to where and when we will hold todays event.

Various weather apps do show this is a weather front passing through northwards and that drier weather is following behind so optimism is definitely still at the forefront of our planning. I know the good people of North Luffenham will not be deterred by cloud based street cleaning fluid!

Returning to drier times, yesterdays Horseshoe Hunt was a big hit and thank you all for turning out to explore North Luffenham and find out a little more about its history. In particular, a big thank you to Claire Barrett who organised the event and researched the various history plaques that appeared around the village. The tie breaker statement at the end of the entry forms threw up some really brilliant responses. The winning response was as follows: Not Only Remarkable Treasure Hunts (but) Lovely, Unique, Fabulous, Fantastic, Extraordinary, Nurturing, Homely, Amazing, Mother nature at its finest! A great effort which the Organising Group felt caught the real aura of the village whilst also demonstrating real originality in its creation. So, once again congratulations to the winner, Peace Crawford, and thank you all again for taking part.

I am positive that todays event, in whatever form it takes, will be a fitting one to close out this great weekend of fun and festivities. Please keep watching the website for updates. To take a line from the wonderful Dame Vera Lynn, I know we will all meet again later today I just “don’t know where, don’t know when! but I know we’ll meet again”

North Luffenham Jubilee Street Party Update

After a trawl through every weather app existing (and thanks to all of you who have given me new apps to check out) and a personal phone call to the weather gods (which didn’t really help!) it is now certain that the situation is uncertain! For this reason we have made the following decision. Everyone has had such a brilliant time that there is no way we will not hold a final “street party” to celebrate the Jubilee and everything that is wonderful about North Luffenham. So the plan, as of now, is that we will hold the Street Party from a revised time of 2.00pm until 4.00pm. It is hoped we will still hold this in Church Street, but only at the top end, near to The Fox, so please plan for that. If the weather gods have a bad night and decide to change their forecast we will move the venue so please watch this website for an update tomorrow around mid morning. Church Street will be closed from 9.00 am as planned to prepare for the celebrations. If the weather closes in we will still hold the final prize giving and Jubilee Toast at 4.00pm at The Fox.

One thing I have learned whilst trying to organise this Jubilee Celebration, is how brilliant and adaptable everyone is in this village and so we, as an organising group, will make this last celebration happen no matter what, and it will be an occasion to remember until the next Platinum Jubilee!

Please keep watching tomorrow for last minute updates.

And finally today the result of the Horseshoe Hunt: As ever the villagers within North Luffenham surpassed all expectations. I walked around the village several times during the day and met loads of people and had a great chat with them, allowing me to learn things about the village that I never knew before. I hope everyone that took part was able to glean something new about the village as well.

And so to the winner. The organising group met this evening and reviewed all the results sheets in an atmosphere of sombre reverence probably only seen before in The Vatican when choosing a new Pope. The first thing to say is a huge thank you to all those who took part. The number of entries far exceeded our expectations. After much deliberation we decided the winner was, ……….. Peace Crawford. More of that tomorrow in the North Luffenham Jubilee Sunday Times.

Sleep well. Only one more day of celebrations left, and I know we will all have a brilliant time. Keep watching the website for updates tomorrow morning!