NORTH WEST CLOG DANCERS
Fiddlesticks’ 2007 May Tour to Lincolnshire
Early on Saturday morning of the May Bank Holiday weekend, a party of Fiddlesticks dancers, musicians and helpers set off from Norwich for Lincolnshire. The weather forecast wasn’t good, but our spirits were high.
First stop – Baytree Nurseries for a welcome cup of coffee and a set of dances to stretch our legs. Not much of an audience, but then the nurseries had only just opened. Then off to Spalding where the first dance spot was supposed to be next to a doughnut stall. Tragedy! No doughnut stall, but the dancing had to go on. A nice circular area for dancing here, and a good audience of Saturday shoppers. A move to the Market Place for more dancing, then back to the buses, picking up sandwiches for lunch on the way. (No prizes for guessing that the writer likes her food!)
Next stop – Ayscoughfee Gardens in Spalding. Another 5 dances were completed before we were allowed to eat our lunch, some kind people sharing their sandwiches with ducks and ducklings around the ornamental pond. Then, no rest for the wicked, another 5 dances to shake down our lunch before departing for Sleaford where we linked up with Kesteven Morris. We treated the inhabitants of Sleaford to dances in the Market Place, outside the Tourist Information office and outside the Hub. Our planned walk along the river to Cogglesford Mill was abandoned as the rain was then coming down steadily. Still, 41 dances completed that day, and 2 more days to look forward to.
Off to the Marriott Hotel at Grantham, check in and a quick change for the pool for a relaxing swim, followed by an even more relaxing soak in the hot tub. Then back on the buses for our evening meal at the Houblon Arms. The constant rain meant another change to our plans for a couple of dances beforehand. But after the meal we pushed back the tables for our music and dance evening, although some of us tall ones had to be very careful as the ceiling was rather low.
Sunday dawned dry and sunny – I wish! By the time we arrived at Lincoln Cathedral it looked as if the rain had set in for the day. We left the shelter of the stone arches free for our sparse audience while we nobly danced in the rain, accompanied by the Cathedral bells. A coffee break followed at a nearby pub, a mini-celebration for Paul’s birthday, with yummy strawberry tartlets. Then down into the town for our next spot. By now the rain was so heavy we were allowed to keep our waterproof jackets on.
But now what were we to do? Negotiations with the manager of a nearby shopping centre provided the answer – a circular area indoors, surrounded by two tiers of floors, a ready-made amphitheatre. And didn’t our clogs sound good on the tiled floor! But shame we couldn’t dance outside by the river.
Anyway, the show must go on, so then off to Belton House, where the staff kindly made a space in the reception area for us. It had to be very compact dancing, being careful to avoid the protruding bits of ironwork.
A quick rush back to the hotel for another swim and soak in the hot tub, before setting off for our evening meal at the Royal Oak. And just for a change we had to cancel our pre-dinner dances, but we made up for it after dinner with much dancing and merriment, shared by a party of fishermen at the next table.
Next morning, same old weather, so some of us cheered ourselves up with a pre-breakfast swim. Before leaving, we performed a couple of dances for the staff at the hotel, although some of the foreign workers seemed rather bemused by it all. Strange customs these Brits have!
We did a token couple of dances at Sir Isaac Newton’s statue in Grantham on our way to Belvoir Castle where, in view of the weather, they were busy laying a special floor for us in the old kitchen. While they were completing this, we had coffee (again!) and dried ourselves in front of the fire. At this point a mini-tragedy was discovered: the remaining strawberry tartlets from the previous day had been left in the hotel fridge!
A day of dancing and workshops for the visiting public followed, with chance for some to look round the house and souvenir shop (and have lunch of course!). We emerged at the end of the afternoon to find that the rain had just about stopped, so we did a final performance of Churchtown at one of the lovely locations where we should have been dancing all day in the sunshine, before having a group photo on the terrace.
Then our weekend tour was over and it was off back to Norwich. Despite the weather, an enjoyable time was had by all, with over 100 dances performed over the 3 days.
I wonder where we’re going next year?