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Kettle Bridge Clogs always mark each five year anniversary with a special trip away from Kent. In the past, this has been as far afield as Hong Kong, Turkey, and the USA. We knew that our 35th anniversary in 2019 was to be our last dancing year, so much thought and research went into choosing our destination. We wanted somewhere pleasant to dance, with some great local sides to meet up with, and that was not a silly distance to travel to from Kent.
After much deliberation and a reconnaissance trip by the Squire, we plumped for a weekend in Norfolk. Our friends from Fiddlesticks are based in Norwich so we arranged to dance with them in the city on the Sunday. However, we still needed a venue for the Saturday. During an internet trawl of Norfolk events for that day, we spotted that the Gorleston Clifftop Festival was taking place on the day in question. It looked like a lively event with good crowds, so we contacted the organisers and they were happy for us to dance there. According to its Facebook page, the festival has been going for 20 years and raises money for local charities by providing a weekend full of free entertainment, including fairground attractions and music performances — and now morris dancers!
Gorleston-on-Sea, to give it its full name, is a delightful traditional seaside resort at the mouth of the River Yare. It features an excellent beach and a very long promenade (ideal for dancing on) which is overlooked by a wide grassy clifftop area.
As you can read in the Wikipedia article, historically the town was actually in Suffolk but in 1835 the county boundary was moved and it became part of Norfolk.
Not many people know that the town also gave its name to the medical condition also known as cholelithiasis, which was first diagnosed there. 😉
It was also reputedly the birthplace of Myleene Klass, the well-known presenter and pop and classical musician — although this might just be Hear'Say. 🤦
There is plenty of accommodation in the town and many of us stayed in the Pier Hotel which overlooks the beach. It proved to be a great choice as the rooms were very comfortable and the staff very friendly and helpful. Incidentally, the hotel was featured prominently in the 2019 Danny Boyle film "Yesterday", which starred Himesh Patel and Ed Sheeran. You can read more about the filming on the hotel's website.
Now your favourite webmaster (me, of course) is not a morris dancer so I have to find an alternative form of exercise in order to maintain my health and fitness. To this end, I am a keen participant in Parkrun, which is a nationwide (indeed international) scheme of free, weekly, 5 kilometre running events. They all take place at 9:00 am each Saturday at over 1,000 locations around the country and when I am away for the weekend I always try to find a Parkrun to participate in.
Luckily, Gorleston hosts one of these runs so, despite the early morning rain, I decided to give it a go. The route went out along the clifftop and back along the promenade and I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially as the rain stopped before we got underway.
Click here to see me and my harem in action during the run.
Having read this far, I expect that you are getting impatient to hear about the dancing. Well, for our first series of stands, we selected a location on the wide beach-level promenade, close to a shelter (just in case it started raining again!). This gave us plenty of room to dance and the people on the clifftop attending the festival could look down on the action. There was just one problem — a negligent dog owner had not "scooped the poop" while exercising their dog. Ever resourceful, we strategically placed a nearby wheelie bin to cover the offending deposit.
There were very few people on the promenade (with or without dogs) so, to start with, spectators were rather thin on the ground. That made it especially pleasing to see Sally and Paul from Fiddlesticks who had made a special trip to support us. Our first dance was Presidcot during which a few drops of rain fell. Thankfully, the weather did remain dry for the remaining dances, namely Horbury and Static Churchtown.
After a short break, we performed KBC Processional, Blackrod and Celebration. Although there were hardly any spectators on the promenade, by now quite a few of those on the clifftop had spotted our dancing (and heard the band, no doubt) and stopped off to watch the action.
Our final set featured Ealuscerwen, Marston and an all-in Churchtown, which several of the audience, including Sally and Paul, were persuaded to participate in. Then it was time to wander back towards the Pier Hotel for a lunch break. Most ate at the hotel or at the nearby Seabreeze café.
Suitably refreshed, we prepared for our final stand, right outside the hotel — with the manager's permission, of course! Our biggest audience of the day enjoyed Milnrow followed by another all-in Churchtown, which proved a great success. We finished off the day's dancing in style with performances of Annie's and Shawforth.
With our dancing obligations over, a few of us ventured up to the Clifftop Festival which was still in full swing. There were plenty of people enjoying all that was on offer including a funfair, some wrestling and plenty of sideshows and stalls.
Then it was back to the accommodation to get ready for the evening meal that had been booked in the Pier Hotel restaurant. We were all ravenous after the day's exertions and thoroughly enjoyed some excellent food. A great way to finish a wonderful day.
Thank you to all those involved in organising the day and for the Pier Hotel in making us so welcome. Also big thanks go to Sally and Paul for making the effort to come along to watch, and, finally, well done to the dancers and band for putting on a great show.
Kettle Bridge Clogs web site by Stephen Cordery is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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