a weekend with family


Clare (daughter) and Harry (GrandToad) came up to spend a few days with us. They arrived on Friday, and after settling in and having some lunch, we took ourselves off to our local Pearson Park; we’re lucky enough to live just over 5 minutes walk from there. We took the scooter we bought for Harry a few months ago, and which lives here. He’s now just about grown into it, so he scooted all over the place, and then we headed for the playground, and he spotted … THE ZIP WIRE. So he had several goes on that, aided and abetted by GrandPete, while his mum hid her eyes 🙂  Then home, for shower, Mars Attacks with GrandPete, then lamb curry and bed.


On Saturday, Rackaback were dancing out at the Hull Folk Festival, in the company of the Raving Maes, Makara and the Thieving Magpies.Now, Harry loves watching Rackaback, and is a good little musician, so we asked him if he’d like to play with the band during the day. He said he’d wear the (little) tatter jacket that Debby made, but he didn’t want a hat, or face paint, so we said sorry – them’s the rules. And he caved 🙂 He played tambourine for every one of the dances, and also went round with our collecting bucket, standing in front of  people, pretty much demanding money with cuteness – we’ve never raised so much! I think the side would like to have him there at every dance out! It was a long day for him, but he never flagged, bless him. We went home to sausages and baked spuds, and an early night for all of us 🙂


On Sunday, we took Clare and Harry to the National Armouries at Leeds, which is just a fabulous place to visit. My daughter and grandson have clearly inherited my love of sharp shiny things, and we were all most covetous. I really, really want the horned helmet given to Henry VIII by Maximilian I, but I doubt they’d let me have it. Really, an hour down the motorway and free entry made this an excellent value day out, and we shall go again. Very highly recommended. We came home to a picky tea of bits and pieces, Galaxy Quest and then, when Harry had gone to bed, a glass of wine. Which turned into four (I think) bottles between three of us, dodgy 80s music on the Apple TV and, I’m sorry to say, dancing during the later hours.



Clare and Harry set off for home on Monday rather later than they had planned, due to Not Feeling Very Well. Pete and I took the GrandToad back to the park for a bit to give her some peace, and fed him a chocolate ice cream, then after lunch off they want.

A lovely weekend with family, doing things we love with good friends – what’s not to like?

However, this horrible coldy thing I’ve got came back with a vengeance during the afternoon yesterday, I couldn’t speak, my throat was closed up. Went to bed at 8, as I was falling asleep on the sofa. And this week I need to crack on with my Breaking Bad obsession, as the final episode is looming, and I must catch up!

a trip to Sheffield

We took ourselves off to Sheffield for the first weekend in March; we had tickets to see the splendid Richard Thompson, so I booked a hotel room. Sadly, I booked the hotel room (non-refundable, non-cancellable) while I was recovering from flu, and booked it for the wrong bloody night; Friday instead of Saturday. So we said “soddit”, and booked Saturday as well, meaning we could have a wander around Sheffield.

Serendipitously, there was a stack of Morris dancing going on during Saturday, so we wandered around watching that, pausing only for me to have my iPhone nicked in a cafe bar at lunchtime. I’m always so careful with it, but it was on the table, someone came over with a stack of leaflets, trying to sell me something, and he nabbed the phone under cover of the literature. I was displeased, and had to spend the afternoon talking to Sheffield plod and changing passwords (thankfully I actually had my iPad with me, which I usually don’t).

Anyhoo, Richard was wonderful, we had supper first with Tim and Ali Biller (not seen Tim for about 11 years, we think, and had never met Ali), and on Sunday we went to meet KITTINS! at Fran’s, and also ate far too much brunch there, and had a lovely time with Doug, Julia, Jim and Carrie.

While on giggage, we also went to see Martin Simpson this week at our local folk bar. I have no idea how I’ve never encountered him before, but he was absolutely splendid.

Incidentally, I’d never had flu before, and it it’s all the same to you, I don’t want it again, thanks. Pete had it too, and was about two days behind me, so we had a week off work, then a second week at half strength, as it took some getting over. And this damn snow can sod off too.

a weekend in Lincoln


For Morris teams in the East of the country, the Lincoln Morris Festival is one of the key dates in the calendar, and Rackaback were pleased to be invited to perform once more. Pete and I booked a family room in a B&B. and our daughter Clare brought our grandson Harry up to watch his granny dancing, and his GrandPete playing.

A splendid time was had by all concerned, including dancing, sightseeing, 10 minutes of Doctor Who (“don’t want to watch any more thank you”), Lincoln Castle, a huge hot chocolate with marshmallows (for the boy), and more besides. Somewhere on Sunday morning I lost my nice black cardigan, but never mind.

My Doc Martens and, more importantly, my feet, held out fine on their first all day joint appearance, Rackaback acquitted ourselves splendidly, and I hope we all get invited again!

That marks three weekends away in a row, so we have decided to give next weekend’s camping a miss, so we have time to draw breath, not least as here is a *big* site launch looming next week.

Freaks in the … Moors

We took ourselves off to Howarth on Friday, for another Freaks in the Peaks weekend, and utterly splendid it was too. The journey there, however, less so, as the radiator died in the roadworks on the M62. The heroic RAC man found a garage who would replace it, and towed us in. We arrived at 4.45, and were away again by about 5.45, so we really couldn’t grumble, but the bill of £245 was a bit of a horror, especially as the car is being MOT’d on Friday, and we have no idea what other horrors may ensue. Ho hum.

We went from the garage to Keighley to pick up Ken – we had planned to drop Jamie in Howarth first, but there was no time, so poor Ken had to be squodged in with his accordion, snare drum and luggage, but we managed. Booked in at the B&B, then off to the pub for smoked haddock fishcakes (for me) and a few [ahem] glasses of wine.

Saturday morning was rehearsing, then dancing in three or four places in the afternoon. Communal cooking in the hall in the evening (we were on chopping duties), then dinner and a lot more dancing. My skeleton was a bit battered by Sunday morning, so we took a drive over to Hebden Bridge and found a lovely food market, then came home right across the top of the moors – beautiful. More dancing then ensued at the Wuthering Heights* pub in Stanbury, before we broke up around 4 and went out separate ways.

We came home via Doncaster (as you do), as Ken wouldn’t have to change trains from there (he has very poor sight), dropped Jamie off, unpacked and slumped with tea, bread and cheese from the market, then had a very early night!

*Everything around there has Bronte names.And did you know that Heathcliffe Mews?

Quick reminder to self: surgery appt this morning. No changes at all, which is good, but thyroid test shows very slightly increased (or decreased or something) so that’ll be retested in three months. Now back on six monthly checks for the diabetes, which is good.

more Morrising

these boots were made for Morrising

I don’t know why I’m not writing much here any  more – lots of posts in my head, but actually putting fingers to keyboard seems beyond me right now.

Yesterday, we (as in Rackaback) did our first proper dance out of the year, down by the Minerva pub in Hull. It’s a nice space, on the old docks, and there were a few people around. I rattled the bucket and people actually paid us (possibly to stop), and we had lots of compliments too. It was an ideal time to test out my purple suede boots – sheepskin insoles and two pairs of socks, and they were dead comfy. But they do make me look like Nanny Ogg

Last weekend (not yesterday, but the one before), we took ourselves off to the badlands of North Lincolnshire. An all to brief stop in Louth, which is a lovely town, but they hide the long term parking, and then down to Mablethorpe for fish and chips by the seaside, and a long walk along the prom. Beautiful day, and it was most enjoyable.

And that’s it, for now.

Freaking in the Peaks

Freaks in the Peaks Jan 2012
Freaks in the Peaks Jan 2012

I didn’t get round to writing the post about our trip to Derbyshire at the end of January, because I was waiting for Pete to put his photos on Flickr, but he hasn’t, so I’ve stolen this one from his Facebook feed. That’s me on the far right bedecked in purple and yellow ribbons.

Anyway, so … off we all went to Freaks in the Peaks, a sort of travelling Morris collective/workshop; about ten of us from Rackaback went, in a sort of works outing, and we rented a pair of cottages in Eyam to accommodate us. We all drove down on the Friday afternoon – we got there first, in daylight, and I was glad we did, as big fat snowflakes fell from the sky in the early evening, and then the ice came, and it was bloody treacherous. But the cottages were snug and warm and so that was OK.  Pete and I stopped in Matlock Bridge on the way down, where the rain came down sideways and it was freezing, and the village was closed anyway due to winter, and then for a cream tea at Chatsworth, so we were well fed.

The Saturday morning was practising in the Mechanics Institute in Eyam, which was good fun, and I learned a couple of new dances. Then lunch, then dancing out firstly outside the Miners Arms, then up at the Craft place. I didn’t dance up there because it was on gravel, and my knees wouldn’t have liked it, but I did manage to get over my fear of not being picked for the netball team in the earlier part of the day. In the evening, most of us went and had a good meal at the Miners, then up to the Ceilidh for rest of the night, which was enormous fun. Much wine was consumed, many instruments were played, and some of us learned a dance called Lorenzo’s Butterfly which, had we been sober, we’d never have managed, given it involves hurling sticks through the air *and* catching them again. We performed it flawlessly, which just goes to show how much wine we’d had. The video at the bottom is not us 🙂

So that was it, really – we had toast and jam in the little tea room for Sunday breakfast, and packed up the cottage.  Some Freakers were walking up the hills to the next village, but we decided we’d drive up there, and we had a nice walk for a couple of miles, although it was a tad on the chilly side. A lovely weekend, all told, and we will be doing the next Freaks in April in Tideswell in Derbyshire.

absent without leave

Have I really not written anything since 17th November? I have been proper poorly, with a viral wossname that lasted about four weeks, and still has me coughing a bit even now. A dose of penicillin didn’t touch it, and in its wake it left two cancelled dentist appointments, one blood test (and the second cancelled by the surgery because the bloodsucker was ill), one Bill Bailey gig in Sheffield (sob), and half of Celtarabia up the road at Pave – had to come home. Still, on the mend now, finally. The latter are absolutely wonderful – if they come anywhere near you, go see them!

Not much else to relate, really. Went Morrising at Bridlington yesterday, but the weather was vile, and my bad knee is playing up in the cold, so I only did one dance. Then we were rained off. Bought the black boots in the same range as the red boots of fabulosity, as I seem to wear nothing else, and they are great for Morris dancing.

Mustrum went missing for ten days, and we thought he was gone for good, but he came home, praise $deityofchoice, thinner and clingy.

And that’s it, really. Very busy with work, Rackaback taking over social life :), looking forward to a good break over Christmas, then a works Morris outing to Derbyshire for a mass dance weekend in January.

Betsy (or possibly not)


Here is my melodeon, which has come to me on such a slim chain of events that clearly we are meant to be together. She is a D/G instrument of indeterminate age and history, and one sticky button, but I shall be researching her (and finding out how to unstick her).

I want to be able to play with the Morris band, and I’ve started on the whistle, but I wanted something with a bit more oomph. I was going to have a bash at learning the concertina – a friend kindly lent me an English one, but it simply didn’t suit my hands, and I must return it to her. I’ve been keeping an eye out for an Anglo, but nothing decent at an affordable price has appeared on eBay, and really I wanted a melodeon, but similar applied.

I mentioned this at Morris practice on Tuesday, and Joe said that there was a melodeon in Cash Converters in Selby; he’d had a look at it, it played well, and it was £135. *Ting*. We arranged that I would speak to Pete to see if I could have it (of course I could :), and Joe went back to have a look on Wednesday morning. Still there, and so he bought it, and I did a bank transfer immediately. Pete and I went to fetch her yesterday, and now I just have to learn to play her. Aargh – it is like nothing else I have ever played. My brain may explode. Still, I managed to get a scale out her last night, and she’ll come round, I’m sure.

Currently she is known as Betsy, but this may not stick – we’ll see. But she is definitely a gurl. I have ordered her a gig bag this morning, and have also ordered up the one melodeon tutor located in the entire Hull Library system. Watch this space. And buy earplugs.

stick but no bucket

Last year, I thought about joining a Morris side – I love watching it, and it doesn’t look too difficult, even to one as terpsichorially challenged as myself.

I went along for a trial evening with Green Ginger Garland, but they weren’t for me; ladies only, further than I’d want to cycle on a winter evening, and just a little bit too serious.

A friend told me about the Raving Maes – we encountered them when we went to the Morris Festival in Lincoln last autumn, and after I’d spoken to them, I contacted them to see if I could join, but never heard anything from them. I was a bit unsure about the costumes, to be honest – an overweight, elderly woman doesn’t necessarily want to be seen out (or even in!) in a basque … And so I never chased it up.

Then my friend Lynn mentioned that she’d been out Morrising last week, and it transpires it was with Rackaback, a new mixed side formed in January, who rehearse a five minute cycle (or 15 minute walk) from home. I trundled along last night to take a look.

Readers, it was huge fun – they even let me have a stick! They just hurl you in at the deep end, and you have to try and keep up; I didn’t do too badly, at least they said I didn’t, but they were probably just being nice. I really enjoyed it, and I shall be there on Tuesdays in future – just loved it. Everyone went to the pub afterwards, and as home is between rehearsal hall and said pub, I dropped my bike off and picked Pete up so he could meet them all.

Rackaback Morris