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The dancers and musicians had booked a variety of accommodation ranging from campsites to a large Victorian house (curtains included) and several had brought family along for the trip. The first major problem though that many of us encountered was actually getting from Kent to Devon. The M25 and A303 in particular were exceptionally busy and slow on the Friday. Obviously word was out that Kettle Bridge were appearing at the festival and the crowds were flocking down to the West Country to see us.
Saturday dawned rather grey and gloomy and, as we congregated for our first stand in Okehampton, there was definitely some moisture in the air. We made our way to Red Lion Yard, a pleasant pedestrianised shopping area, where we met up with the other sides that were sharing the stand. These were
Kettle Bridge's first dance was Annie's during which, as if by magic, the clouds parted and the sun shone. However, by the time it was our turn again, the weather was taking a turn for the worse. During Aughton, the rain started tipping down but the dancers bravely carried on and the band did their best while sheltering under umbrellas. However, as the conditions worsened, the dancing surface became quite dangerous, so the dance was finished at the earliest opportunity. We now refer to the town as Soak-hampton.
We completed our set with Colne and Churchtown, the latter featuring additional dancers from the audience and the other sides.
Then it was off to The King's Arms Inn in South Zeal. The pub was at the top of the hill at one end of the village at the entrance to the festival camp site. Parking was at a premium but we managed to get the last spots in the car park and in the road just outside the pub. Dodging the showers, Kettle Bridge performed an alphabetically inspired stand consisting of Annie's, Blackrod and Cossington, coping well with the sloping dancing surface.
The third stand was just a short walk down the hill at The Oxenham Arms. Again, the lie of the land meant that there were no nicely horizontal surfaces to dance on but a section of road just down the hill from the pub provided the best that could be found. Kettle Bridge performed two dances here - Aughton and a static version of Churchtown. This was an electrifying performance which made everyone's hair stand on end and at no extra charge.
Between dances, there was an opportunity to grab a bite to eat. Some tried the hog roast provided by the pub or ventured into the nearby village store which must have done as much business in one day as it usually does in a month.
Finally we made our way further down the hill to the main arena. Here we had a ten minute spot on the wooden stage that had been placed over the grass. The area was smaller than we are used to so some of the dancers were actually standing off the stage at various times during the dancing. This, coupled with a slightly slippery surface from the earlier rain, meant that the dancers had to work harder than usual. Nevertheless, they performed Prescot and KBC Processional to much applause from the appreciative audience. Rumour has it that one of the crowd actually laughed at Ian's joke but I think it was just someone who had had too much scrumpy.
Then it was time to go our separate ways, either home for rest and refreshment or to stay on to enjoy the evening's entertainment.