29 May 2011 - Harrogate

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The second day of our Yorkshire weekend as the guests of Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers was based in Harrogate.

The first venue was the Royal Horticultural Society garden at Harlow Carr. As well as being a splendid location it also gives me the flimsiest of excuses to scatter garden-related references throughout my report. Thistle make you groan, I am sure. You have been warned!

The weather was rather cloudy and drizzly when we arrived but thankfully this didn't dampen our spirits. We were dancing with Betty Lupin again but this time accompanied by Clogarhythm, a step clog side.

We all assembled in the entrance hall, hoping that the weather would be kind. It looked decidedly dodgy but we composted ourselves, grasped the nettle and set off for the area where we were due to dance. Sandy's back was still playing up and walking all the way to the stand would have been hard graft so she made use of one of the available vehicles provided by the RHS. She certainly looked like a budding Barry Sheene as she made her way along the paths on her buggy.

The first stand was on an excellent, large, flat, paved area which was an ideal sounding board for the clatter of clogs but we did have to be wary of the pond! As usual, the sides took turns to dance. Having not seen much step clogging before, I personally found Clogarhythm's performances fascinating.

Kettle Bridge rose to the occasion with superb renditions of Annie's, Colne, Marston and KBC Processional, accompanied as usual by the evergreen band.

Sow then it was thyme to uproot ourselves and move on to the second location which was at the foot of the steps by the garden entrance. This was a short stand with Kettle Bridge performing just the one dance, namely Manx.

Lunch then beckoned, so we left Harlow Carr for the short drive into Harrogate to the Old Bell Tavern where our hosts had arranged a blooming marvellous spread. Suitably refreshed, we felt mulch better and ready to turf out for the final stand of the day at Valley Park.

Thankfully, the location was only a short stroll away in a very pleasant park. We picked an excellent spot to dance and a crowd of people soon formed to seed what was going on. I am sure this was nothing to do with the nearby café!

The weather by now had improved somewhat and there was bright sunshine while Kettle Bridge danced Aughton, Prescot, Horbury and Colne before the obligatory break for refreshment. This was followed by performances of Cossington and KBC Processional, to bring the dancing to a close.

All that remained was for all involved to make their weary way up to the nearby Palm Court tea rooms for a magnificent tea with plenty of gorgeous cakes and biscuits. All too soon it was time to say "thank you and goodbye" to our hosts. Weed had a tremendous weekend and everyone would leaf with very frond memories of Yorkshire to look back on in the fuchsia.

Seriously, though, we really must repeat our sincere thanks to all at Betty Lupton's, Flag and Bone Gang and Clogarhythm for the wonderful hospitality we were given and for the hard work that went into organising it all. It definitely made the weekend an occasion to remember. Let's hope we can do the same for them one day.