Fiddlesticks’ 2010 May Tour to the Cotswolds

Going a little further afield than usual for our UK Tours, we decided to travel to the Cotswolds on the Friday evening, thereby meaning we started fresh for a whole day’s dancing on Saturday. Work commitments meant that one minibus had to leave Norwich rather later than the other, but we all eventually arrived at our accommodation for the weekend at The Mill & Old Swan Inn in Minster Lovell, situated beside the River Windrush. The extensive grounds included tennis courts and a fitness centre, but I don’t think anyone had time to use these facilities. Doesn’t the dancing keep us fit enough anyway?

On Saturday we set off with great enthusiasm for our first dance spot in Bourton on the Water, where we planned to dance outside the Motor Museum. We managed a few dances and had just gathered a nice-sized audience when ... down came the rain. We soldiered on for a couple of minutes before admitting defeat and retiring to a nearby cafe where we consoled ourselves with coffee and cake. We waited in the hope that the rain would stop, but eventually we sent the drivers to bring the minibuses from the car park to pick us up (not wishing to get all the equipment wet!).

So on to our next venue, The Old Stocks Hotel in Stow on the Wold. It was still raining when we arrived here so we had an early lunch. Not that we had done much to deserve it so far but it had been ordered so we couldn’t waste it, could we? Some members braved the rain to go and investigate the town’s attractions. Then ... a break in the clouds and the rain stopped just long enough for us to gather together a dance side and some musicians and do a couple of dances outside the hotel, to the obvious delight of a few onlookers.

Off to our afternoon’s destination, Sudeley Castle. Was that a hint of sunshine I saw? I always did have a good imagination. There was an interesting sculpture at the entrance. At first sight it looked like a dragon. Several people thought so. But no, in fact it represented liquid pouring out of a suspended jug.

A first dance session took place before a very sparse audience. Then there was time for a wander round the castle and the grounds. A peacock was very keen to display its magnificent tail to anyone who would watch. We could see more black clouds approaching, so hastily began our second set of dances outside the castle entrance. Down came the rain again, but the show must go on, well at least until the end of the current dance, when we all beat a hasty retreat inside, into a large marquee where people were having a peaceful cup of tea. We soon awakened them with some very noisy (and by necessity very compact) dancing. Our clogs made a lovely noise on the stone flags.

Our next planned venue was The Fox Inn at Great Barrington. The minibuses made their way down tiny little lanes with tree branches sweeping the windows. Was this really the satnav route? Wow! At The Fox Inn the rain had stopped. Here we met up with Kemps Men who were also dancing in the Cotswolds that weekend. The dancing area was a small yard at the back of the inn, bounded on one side by the river. Whenever there’s a pipe across a river, there’s always someone who has to walk across it, isn’t there? How many were really hoping he would fall in? But he didn’t and returned safely to a great cheer.

Despite the disappointing lack of dancing during the day, we were all ready for our evening meal at The Mill & Old Swan Inn. A musical evening followed before we turned in, hoping for better weather the next day.

And so it was that Sunday was a lovely day. We set off for Broadway, where we were to do two sessions by the war memorial. As we arrived, a parked car was just moving off our dance area, so we quickly established ourselves there. It was an ideal location, with a large flat surface suitable for our showy dances. There was a farmers’ market on the other side of the road which occupied us in the interval between our dance sessions and provided the source of several people’s picnic lunch.

On to Hidcote Manor Gardens where we were to do three dance sessions. This is a National Trust property, gradually being restored to its 1930s heyday. Our dancing on the Theatre Lawn also allowed us plenty of time for looking round the extensive gardens and a picnic lunch in the shade under the trees. What a change to be looking for shade! There was a final dance session in the road outside before we headed back to our accommodation. Just time for a couple of dances here before getting ready for our evening meal at The Kings Head Inn in Bledington.

Monday was to be our really high-profile day. We started with 2 sessions at Woodstock Town Hall in front of a small but appreciative audience. A local cafe was the source of take-away coffee and an extensive selection of items for another picnic lunch.

Quickly on to Blenheim Palace where we were to spend the rest of the day. A nice young man showed us to our marvellous dance location on a raised area at one side of the main entrance to the Palace. Our dancing programme allowed plenty of opportunities for a tour of the Palace and gardens. And of course refreshments. We were so well received by our audiences, and at the end of the afternoon made our weary way to the exit, where there was a most convenient ice cream van. It didn’t matter then if we spilt down the front of our blouses. However careful you are, it always seems to happen!

Our long journey home was broken for a meal at Quy Mill, Cambridgeshire, where votes of thanks were proposed and little presentations made (a couple of birthdays had taken place over the weekend). Then back on the road again, arriving in Norwich late in the evening. Many thanks to the drivers and organisers and all who helped during the weekend, and of course all who took part! Looking forward to next year.

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