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Wimborne Minster folk Festival

 Here's some of the festival highlights for all you poor souls who weren't there.

First of all, this is me when I unexpectedly got dragged into the set by the Knights of King Ina.
(I'm not a Cotswold dancer, but I have attended a couple of their workshops and I guess some of the footwork must finally have got into muscle memory, as I didn't do too badly! Though Portsmouth is a very easy dance as jigs go)
It was fun, and an unexpected bonus.



Second, Fosbrooks.  The sleeper hit of the festival.  A group of school children from Stockport (near Manchester)  They were pretty much ignored on our web site pre-festival as no one knew them. But I'd invited them all that way for good reason.  Once they started performing, the audience absolutely loved them and Google Analytics showed a massive boost in hits on their page.
Here they are, dancing their local step dance tradition, as they have done for the last 40 years.



and another sleeper hit - Northgate Rapper.  
They were with us last year, but danced mainly in the pubs. Rapper is a natural pub dance, as it is a short dance and takes up very little space. And rapper dancers like pubs...
This year, they still did the pubs, but I also gave them a number of spots in our best venues.
If you think they are good here, trust me when I say that seeing them live from a distance of 2m is scary. Those sword swipes under the feet are terrifying and the first time I saw that final move....
(When they aren't on a stage, they get the audience to come in really close, just so you can get the full terror!)




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Wimborne Minster folk Festival

 Come and see what I've spent most of the year working on!

There's short a video of the procession and it gives a great synopsis. That's my husband getting shot at the start!

I'm still knackered, but all four of my children's groups performed wonderfully on the day.

The feedback has been amazing, probably the best Wimborne festival ever.



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Southern Star Longsword

 Another of my sanity breaks is my longsword dancing.

This is Southern Star Longsword in their first dance out of the year, performing our unique dance for three dancers (longsword normally needs six dancers). We're a very small team...

I present (missing the end and the rather pretty lock that you don't get to see), the dance called 'Three Legged Horse'.


In longsword, unlike most other traditional dances, a 'figure' is the bit between the start and a sword lock, so contains several types of move.

We invented many of the moves, though some are adapted from dances for six.

For those who don't know me, I'm the one with the purple sash.

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Stick and bucket dance

 I feel this one is apropriate for the date.


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A sprig of lilac

 It's the 25th of May.



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Changing bank

 I've only changed bank twice in my life, once when I got married and once when Barclays made a major screw up and took several months to admit it was their fault and to fix it.

It looks like I'm about to do it again.  I'm about to leave an excellent bank with great customer service who have never given me any hassle at all.

Why?

I've just become a subscriber to Ethical Consumer - the main reason I subscribed was to look at where I wanted to invest my money and to ensure that I wasn't investing in fossil fuels or heavily polluting industries.

Sadly, it turns out that First Direct (and their parent bank HSBC) both have  a very bad track record in fossil fuel investments - and also in companies producing nuclear weapons).

I'm going to pay a visit to Nationwide very soon.    They came out very close to the top on the issues that matter most to me (climate change) and they are based in the UK. 

I expect to be moving my account to them.

Then I'll move onto sorting out my savings.

To put it bluntly, no point in saving money for my grandchild if there isn't a habitable planet for her to enjoy it. Therefore, I'm willing to have less interest for better ethics (and some investments may offer both).
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The Workhouse

 It's not often that a TV show can make me cry, but I'm currently watching "Call the Midwife" on Netflicks and catching up on earlier seasons that I'd missed.

The last episode of the first season (and one earlier episode as well) focus on the older generation who spend time in the workhouse.

I've done some reading around this period and the programme does not exaggerate.

Families were separated. Husbands from wives, children from their mothers.  Many children died from malnourishment.

The Victorian view was that the poor were responsible for their poverty - only by making workhouse conditions really bad could you stop the lazy wanting to enter them.

There was a lot of variation over time, some times and places were better than others, but saving money was always a strong motive.  Many young children were sold as apprentices to mills in the north or as to chimney sweeps to climb chimneys.   Many of those 'apprentices' would die young. Others were sent overseas as part of colonisation programmes to meet a range of fates (all the way from kind adoptive parents to effective slavery).
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Exhaustion...

 It's a very busy time of year for morris dancers.  This is when everyone suddenly contacts you and says "Can you perform at our May Day (or event close to May Day) fete?"

To which the inevitable answer is that you need to book a year in advance to get Anonymous Morris for May Day and the bank holiday weekend will also be taken about a year beforehand.

However, we do squeeze in some extras... (especially if it's for children)

It's also approaching
Wimborne Minster Folk Festival time of year, which means I'm working with several local schools teaching children traditional dances to perform at the festival.  I enjoy it, the kids are wonderful, but it's still tiring.

30 June - North West Morris at Allenbourn school.
1 May - Cub pack in Hamworthy - Border Morris
2 May - Maypole and longsword dancing at Pamphill school
3 May - morris practice
4 May - no dancing!
5 May - paid booking - 2 hours of morris and maypole dancing (great venue, we go there every year)
6 May - no dancing!
7 May - Morris and maypole paid booking at Blandford Georgian Fayre (another great venue - but it was very hot this year...)
          - longsword practice in the evening
8 May - day off!  (collapsed and did a lot of resting)
9 May - Maypole and longsword dancing at Pamphill school
10 May - Beaver pack - Border morris
          - morris practice

Just had another local school ask if I can teach some kids before the Folk Festival in June.  That would be on Thursdays.  I think I can do it (did this school last year), but it's hard work as it's two hours in the afternoon with no break. One class followed by another.  Just got to find a volunteer musician and ideally another dancer to help (the catch is that only retired and unemployed members of the team are free during the school day, and I'm already roping them in for all the other school sessions....)

The catch is that I'm constitutionally incapable of turning down a request to teach any form of traditional dance to the next generation.....

That's how I originally started teaching maypole dancing.

The school where did did our morris practice mentioned one day that they'd found an old maypole in a store room and could we teach maypole dancing?  I said 'yes' by reflex and then went away to learn how.  I'm now an expert on maypole dancing.  Old dances new dance, overseas dances, take your pick.

I can take a group who have never maypole danced before and get a decent pattern on the pole in less than ten mins.
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Morgan's Boy

 For those who haven't already seen Aralias's post - Morgan's Boy is now on You Tube

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhVwh3A8ixpE4KAOVY6aztFsSN9dZalF5

I should have done this long ago...

It's still the best thing Gareth Thomas ever did.  It's neither a happy story nor a quick one, but it's very well told.  Just look at the body language. Morgan moves differently to Gareth - he's slow and deliberate.  Gradually, you learn to understand him and the things that moulded him.

The TV series was about Morgan and his nephew.  The boy is sent to the farm to visit the uncle he's hardly ever met and is gradually drawn into Morgan's small world.  The life of a Welsh hill farmer in the 1980s was not an easy one, the work is hard and money is scarce.

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Good customer service

 I can happily recommend RS components for good customer service (and good prices).

I ordered 10m of black velcro.  It was delivered the next morning, postage included in the price.

I realised I'd accidentally ordered hook tape instead of hook and loop tape.

Even through the fault was mine for ordering the wrong item, the friendly man on the phone gave me a free return label.

I think they mostly sell to maintenance engineers: they stock a wide range of batteries, tools and tool storage of every kind, PPE, electronic components, lots of kit for testing and measuring, etc.  If you need the ultimate spanner kit, then this may be a good place to look.

(I slag off firms when they screw me up, so I always and post something nice when a firm goes the extra mile)


What do I need double sided velcro for?

Morris bells are expensive, so I buy a lot of these:


They cost about £5 if you buy them individually in Hawkin's Bazzar as "Jingle bands" but I've just discovered a firm that sells them in bulk under a different name for £34 for 20 bands!

They will fit around a child's wrist, but not an adult's knee.  However, add a strip of double-sided velcro and the gap is perfectly bridged!


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Judith Proctor

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