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Last year, we enjoyed a slightly damp trip to Lower Rainham to dance at the English Festival which was held in Riverside Country Park. We were delighted to be invited back for 2018 and even happier that the weather was glorious.
The bright sunshine had brought out the crowds and this was reflected in the extremely long queue to get into the event car park. Luckily, as performers, we were allowed to park in the on-site car park but it was touch-and-go whether everyone would get there on time to perform the first stand at midday.
Last year, we were located outside the W.I. tent but this time the organisers had put us on one of the main pathways, next to the land train terminus. Rumours that this was because we had eaten all the cakes and drunk all the tea last year are completely unfounded! This new dancing site made for a challenging time as the path was only just about wide enough to dance on and so many people seemed intent on trying to get past even while we were dancing. Coupled with that, we could not dance if the land train was at the terminus as it needed a wide turning circle and the passengers were trying to get on and off. So not an ideal dancing spot!
Thankfully, we had a full complement of dancers and musicians by the time we were due to start. We performed Milnrow 6, Sidcot and Marston 6. Those that stopped to watch seemed to enjoy the spectacle.
Kits Coty had the next spot, so, while they danced, we made our way to the picnic area for lunch, picking up some tasty food from the stalls on the way. After a refreshing break, there was time to wander round the rest of the English Festival. There was a similar feel to last year, with plenty of food stalls, entertainment and displays of all things English to keep everyone happy. In particular, the petting corner was much enjoyed by the children.
Then it was time for our second stand of the day. After Ealuscerwen 6 and Aughton 6, we roped in members of the public (mostly children) to join in with Churchtown. As usual, this proved to be very popular and enjoyable.
For the next break, most of us headed for the W.I. tea tent where thankfully there were still plenty of scrummy cakes left.
For our final stand at 3 p.m., we did Annie's (with crowd control provided by the resting dancers!), Blackrod and Lostock. Then it was time to wend our weary way home again, this time with no queues!
Before I finish, I must say "thank you" to the band who kept going throughout the afternoon and did us proud. Here's to next year!
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