28 May 2011 - Harrogate

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I bet it will stop raining soon
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Kettle Bridge were thrilled to be invited to spend the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend as guests of Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers for two days of fun and dancing in North Yorkshire.

Most of the dancers and musicians made their way up north on the Friday, with those choosing to travel early managing to avoid the worst of the traffic. We were staying at various locations in and around Knaresborough (home of the renowned Bed Race) and Harrogate. In particular, there was a significant contingent based at Badger Hill Holiday Village which was very conveniently located on the outskirts of Knaresborough.

We had arranged to meet up with Betty Lupton's for an informal welcoming get-together at The Mitre Inn in Knaresborough. Several of us took the opportunity to go to the pub early to have an evening meal which we all seemed to enjoy. Then it was a short stroll upstairs to meet our guests who made us feel exceptionally welcome. New friendships were formed, final plans made for the weekend's activities and the occasional drink quaffed. Finally we all made our weary way back to our accommodation with much excited anticipation.

The Weekend of Dance got off to rather a damp start as we were greeted by a number of rain showers, but it takes more than that to deter Kettle Bridge Clogs. We gathered in Knaresborough Market Place where we met up with Betty Lupton's and the Flag and Bone Gang, our dancing companions for the day. The local town crier got proceedings under way by introducing the mayor of Knaresborough and his wife, Councillors Andrew and Christine Willoughby. This was apparently the first official engagement of their tenure and we heartily thank them not only for their welcome but their doggedness in braving the weather for the whole morning to support the occasion.

The dancing then started with the usual rotation of sides. Betty Lupton's are a well drilled side whose dancing is very attractive to watch. They use hankies, sticks, shakers and garlands (not all at the same time!) and proudly wear patriotic red, white and blue outfits.

Flag and Bone are something a little different. Dressed up like "Beekeepers Anonymous", they use either flags or clickers to accompany their dancing. Click here to see them in action.

In the first set of dances, Kettle Bridge performed Sidcot, Colne, Aughton and Horbury Polka. As usual, these were all well appreciated by the assembled crowd. There was just time for a coffee break before we met up again for a group rendition of "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at". According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), this is Yorkshire's unofficial anthem and apparently tells the story of a young man trying to woo a certain Mary Jane on Ilkley Moor but he is not wearing a hat. The singers of the song point out that he will die of exposure because of his lack of headgear in the cold wind, the worms will eat his corpse, ducks will eat the worms and the singers will eat the ducks. It is not clear whether the moral is always wear your hat, courting can damage your health or keep off the moors when the wind is blowing. I am glad to report that, as we were not far from Ilkley Moor and the wind was blowing rather hard, Kettle Bridge did keep their hats on.

After this slight diversion, it was back to the dancing. Kettle Bridge performed a new variation of Churchtown featuring an improvised ending and finally the ever-popular Cossington.

It was then time to repair to the Old Royal Oak for lunch. This pub is very conveniently located on the market place and provided us with a really excellent spread. Suitably refreshed, all three sides performed in the pub car park, with Kettle Bridge dancing Prescot and Colne. The dancers had to exercise great care when dancing off as the car park led straight onto a busy road.

Reluctantly we left the pub and made our way up to Knaresborough Castle. Due to its elevated position, this proved to be a very windy location and shelter was hard to come by. Nevertheless, the dancing surface was excellent and everyone put on a good show.
The highlight of this stand was the arrival of a newly married couple (or some people on their way to a very elaborate fancy dress party). In time honoured fashion, a guard of honour was formed using the garlands and the happy couple now have some unexpected photos in their album.

To reach the final stand at the aptly named Waterside, we made our way down to the river from the castle using the path which meanders down the sides of the steep valley. Half way down, there was an excellent photo opportunity with views of the impressive railway viaduct over the River Nidd. On reaching the bottom, it was time to dance again and Kettle Bridge performed Marston and Blackrod.

That wasn't the end of festivities for the day, however as our hosts had arranged a party at the Calcutt Village Hall. The theme was "Strictly Come Dancing", and both sides provided a set piece spoof of the celebrated television show, coincidentally using the same dance as inspiration. It was nice to see everyone letting their hair down and didn't they do well. Finally there was a themed team dancing competition which proved to be tremendous fun. There were "demonstrations" of ballroom, ballet, line dancing and Egyptian, with all dancers appropriately attired and accompanied by some impromptu music. Many thanks to all at Betty Lupton's for putting on a great party with wonderful food and entertainment. It was a brilliant end to a wonderful day.