My wife and I have been staying in the Little Rissington since April and until last week there was one very important piece of The Cotswolds we were yet to experience, Gifford’s Circus. Since arriving in England and finding ourselves in the unique world that is The Cotswolds, time after time we have been told that we must go to Gifford’s. Now I’ll be honest, the idea of a circus didn’t overly tickle my fancy. When I think of a circus I think of a sad looking clown (probably with a flower on his top that squirts water) and some even sadder looking animals. Well, never have I been happier to eat my own words!
We were met in the field of the Barringtons by vintage wagons selling fairy floss (or candy floss as the English call it), popcorn, pizza and lollies. We wandered about the field and took in our surroundings as we waited to be granted access to the big top tent. As we entered the tent I was impressed by the set and surprised by the space inside. It felt like they had used an undetectable extension charm, like something out of Harry Potter. We carefully chose our seats, near the front and in the middle, but hopefully in a spot that wouldn’t have us selected for any audience participation. It wasn’t long before we finally met Tweedy. He was the
Gifford’s staple that we were told would be the highlight.
Let me establish something early... I hate clowns. In fact, I might even be scared of them. Their creepy make up, massive shoes and wigs just don’t sit well with me. All in all they just seem awkward. I’m happy to admit Tweedy is the exception to my hatred of clowns. Thankfully he didn’t have any of the above mentioned shoes, wig and makeup combination. Most importantly, he was incredibly fun. He had a cheer about him that seemed completely genuine and was unbelievably contagious. He did the opposite of any other clown and made me feel comfortable, almost to the point of being willing to join in if asked upon, almost! For the next hour we were enthralled by whip cracking, singing, dancing and a small array of happy (thank goodness) looking animals. Even intermission provided a highlight for us, with a good old-fashioned English cup of tea (poured from an enormous Emma Bridgewater pot) and some banana cake.
The second act was when Gifford’s really began to shine. The performances went up to another level with juggling, some sort of rug twirling that was quite incredible and amazing acrobatics. Tweedy again provided great entertainment and kept the crowd laughing throughout.
Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the whole show was the genuine enjoyment the performers seemed to have in doing what they do. It was completely contagious and had everybody in the crowd smiling and laughing from start to finish. The conclusion of the show highlighted this more so than any other moment, with the entire cast dancing as they thanked the crowd.
Gifford’s Circus well and truly lived up to the hype and is an experience I will forever recommend to any friend that visits The Cotswolds. A win for Gifford’s and a win for clowns everywhere!