About Me

My photo
Loving all stylish and wonderful things in life, fashion and interiors. I am English but living my life in the fabulous city of Melbourne in Australia. Welcome and please read on.... (contact me at sjstubbs19@gmail.com)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Who's that girl?

A week or so ago (okay maybe a couple!) the lovely Jeanne posted this photograph above on her blog Finding My Way. I was very excited when I saw it and said to her - "Aha, I know who THIS is - the beautiful and talented Nell! " I promised that I would tell Jeanne all about her and so here I am keeping that promise .....

So, just who is Nell? Well, I had planned on doing a post about her later on in the year as Nell Gifford owns, along with her husband Toti, the wonderful and amazing GIFFORDS CIRCUS..... (in England) .

In 2000 Nell and her husband Toti built their 1930s style circus from scratch. With no training in carpentry, Toti transformed a dilapidated wagon they found in a ditch into a cosy home. He then built a big top and circus wagons, which were all painted their trademark 'Giffords red'. By the spring of 2002, he had finished the vital component to all travelling circuses: the catering wagon and this was the year they started touring.

Now, before you think.. "No, I don't like going to circuses" ... Let me tell you - this is not just any old circus. It is a wonderful, traditional small circus along with a pretty, sawdust floored big top and it tours the West of England each Summer (they did take a break in 2007 and in 2009) but I am DELIGHTED to tell you that they are going to be touring in 2010 (starting in May I believe) and you would be mad not to go if you lived anywhere near where they may be going ... check out their website http://www.giffordscircus.com/. I would go as far as to say that even if you did not live near where they appear I would go to the West Country especially and stay in a B and B or hotel for the weekend and go and see them! You honestly would not be disappointed. There are jugglers and acrobats along with a small brass band (rescued from a Parisian street corner), a little bit of fairytale, gorgeous dancing girls and a funny man -' Tweedy' but NO garish or horrible bright clowns I promise you!! I have seen them in four different shows and one year I loved it so much I went twice... I laughed till tears ran down my face during one performance and you always leave with a feeling of such euphoria. The whole audience dances in the ring to the music played by the band at the end of each performance (not mandatory of course, but infectious I warn you!)

As you can see in the photograph above - the circus touring vans painted in their vintage fashioned colours - dark maroon and cream...

I saw the show that this frog was in - think it was in 2004.

Cossack horsemen - extremely handsome and daring...! And the exotic and wonderful Nell Gifford (who rescues and trains these horses) appears in the ring several times as the Ringmaster and with her beautiful horses too... I saw her appear and perform in the outfit that she is wearing in the first photograph. Simply breathtaking....

I would make plans and book your tickets sooner rather than later if you do want to go and when you go onto the website I think it is easier to scroll down to see the categories.... I hope to see them when they come to Marlborough Common in late August.

This is a show for the WHOLE family, even for those "too-cool-for-school" teenagers, I promise (just don't tell them where you are taking them) - you will all LOVE it or I will eat my Australian Akubra hat if I had one!

Oh, and p.s. - Talking of eating, if you wanted some food afterwards they have a Circus restaurant (a 'fairy- light bedecked' marquee/tent) where you can dine with members of the show - they serve up wonderful 3 course dinners sourced from local ingredients. Again, book far in advance and on the website for this treat too at the same time as booking your tickets.


  1. I want to go! This sounds so beautiful and authentic. I could maybe create my own 'Peaple's Circus' which tours Australia...

  2. This looks like something from a British Movie set...I have never really been to a Circus like this...transport me please! I would soak it up like a dry sponge.

  3. What an amazing thing to do, Nell and Toti sound like an incredible couple, I will have to try and see them, especially as their funny man shares my surname!

  4. Sarah - I usually avoid anything which remotely resembles 'circus' like the plague but this looks different & interesting - I shall check out the website! Hope you are having a happy week x

  5. Sarah, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to read this post. I thought she was just another glamorous socialite and it turns out she is so much more. I am off to check the site and will definitely put this on our family to do list. Our time in England is going to be that much more special for having met you! Mr. H would say more expensive but I say...all wonderful and fabulous! We are off to Scotland in August and do you know the first thought that crossed my mind??? CASHMERE! Any suggestions! Hope you have a great day...best wishes for tomorrow.
    Jeanne :)

  6. A truly fascinating story, thank you. It would be a thrill to be able to see them.

  7. Hi Sarah,

    I normally am so against the circus. They are horrible places for animals. But this one sounds absolutely delightful. It sounds like the animals are treated very well. What a wonderful, wonderful post. Another reason to visit Australia! (I'm adding up reasons to swap houses w/FF!)


  8. I'm going to book to go (also to Marlborough), it looks fantastic fun for everyone - maybe see you there x

  9. I would love this circus. What a great story and Nell is beautiful.

    Hope you are well and all is well, my dear.


  10. Wow, looks amazing - doesn't she look stylish on her horse? I'll check out their site, certainly, although I suspect my 13-day tour of the UK in May will be quite circus-like enough...

  11. Sophie P - I believe a circus is very hard work no time for sunbathing!!

    HOTHB - you'd love it I am sure.

    Dash - try and go and see them one day.

    FF - yes, she is glamorous and exotic and also eccentric in a good way.

    Susie - I was exactly the same - avoided them like the plague before I saw Giffords.

  12. Jeanne - I am so pleased you like the post and the information about GIffords and it would be great if you did go along.... Hmmmm Cashmere in Scotland - I will have to put on my thinking cap but I am sure there will be lovely places... Brora HQ I believe are up there for a start!! (maybe they have a 'seconds' place!)

    James - glad you enjoyed the post...

    Janet - yes, usually I would not be into cicuses as I abhore any cruelty but there is none here... Such a lovely sweet circus. (Oh, and I don't think I made it clear but it is in England - have now added this on the post!) So, sorry, not a reason to add to swap houses with FF!!

    NWLG - oh yes, maybe see you in Marlborough - that would be good!

    Tish - think you would adore this circus - yes, my dear thank you all well here...

    Struggler - would be great if you could go but I expect you will be really busy if you have only 13 days in UK... - how nice though to be looking forward to a trip 'home'.


Thank you for dropping by and for your comment.....