NORTH WEST CLOG DANCERS
Fiddlesticks’ 2013 May Tour of Cheshire
The Tour this year was organized by Peter & Christine Wall.
DAY 1 FRIDAY 24th MAY
The two minibuses carrying Fiddlesticks dancers, musicians and friends set off from Norwich in the early evening, following local pick-ups, arriving at our hotel BEST WESTERN Nottingham Derby, Long Eaton for an overnight stay. By the time that the second mini-bus arrived at the hotel all the passengers from the first bus had gone to bed with the exception of Alex who told us of the slight mishap that the bus had had with the height restricted entrance to a car park!!
DAY 2 SATURDAY 25th MAY
After a 9.15am departure from the hotel, our first dance spot of the day was at FERRERS CENTRE FOR ARTS & CRAFTS, Staunton Harold, Ashby de la Zouch, quite close to the hotel. The Ferrers Centre offers a unique visitor experience of traditional skills mix harmoniously alongside more contemporary studios. There are workshops, studios, gallery, deli, tearoom, exhibitions, walks and a National Trust Church. Here we danced within a stunning Georgian courtyard on a beautiful sunny morning. We also featured on their website. After a cup of coffee and a look around, we set off on quite a long drive to Cheshire. The weather was good and consequently there was quite a lot of traffic on the roads.
We arrived at THE RISING SUN PUB, in the attractive Cheshire village of TARPORLEY, in time for lunch. In the 1800s, The Rising Sun was well known throughout Cheshire, not just for its fine ale, but as one of the county’s leading saddlers. The inn is often mentioned, and is described as a ‘Good House, a good deal used by farmers’ which remained the case nearly a century later. Following a nice sandwich lunch we danced across the road from pub, by the Chestnut Pavillion. And following this dance spot, we departed Tarporley for an afternoon in Chester. Now, anyone who has ever arranged a Tour knows that however well it is arranged the unexpected will always happen and this often involves the weather, for which one just cannot legislate. And so it was……the beautiful spring weather, the fact it was a Bank Holiday Weekend and also Chester Races Day meant that we soon joined a huge traffic jam and were not likely to get to Chester that afternoon for our dance spots in Eastgate Street(this is the area of the “Rows”), and Town Hall Square. So, after we had driven into a garden centre and requested to dance there, which they declined, there was little we could do but turn the busses around and return to Tarporley where danced some more and looked around until it was time to DEPART FOR OUR HOTEL. At around 5.00pm we arrived at our hotel, Fir Grove Hotel, Grappenhall, and settled in. We would normally have a meal and evening in the hotel on the first night of the tour, but as it was full of wedding guests we went out for our evening meal, after a pre-supper drink, supplies by Lynn.
A short drive took us to THE ROEBUCK, MOBBERLEY. Mobberley is a village and a parish in Altrincham district, Cheshire. The village stands on a branch of the river Bollin. In 1206 Patrick de Mobberley founded an Augustinian priory here.
Before dinner we had the opportunity to dance MOBBERLEY on the road outside pub ( not in kit). We dined in a private upstairs dining room. Following dinner there was music, an appearance of the Fiddlesticks choir and the usual general merriment!
DAY 3 SUNDAY 26th MAY
After a 9.00am departure from the hotel of both minibuses (including the one which had an umbrella sticking out of the roof all night...why was that?), we set off on a beautiful sunny morning for the drive into North Wales. LLANDUDNO was our first stop. Llandudno is Wales's largest resort, uniquely situated between the Great and Little Ormes with two wonderful beaches, the award winning North Shore and the quiet, sand duned West Shore. Llandudno has kept its Victorian and Edwardian elegance and splendour, despite its modern attractions. Llandudno also has an amazing long and wide promenade, which is where we danced two spots, at different positions along the promenade, with our coffee break between, departing at lunchtime for CONWY.
With a foreboding castle and picturesque quay, set against a stunning mountainous backdrop, the medieval walled town of Conwy is the perfect location for a dance spot. Conwy was exceptionally busy, the weather being so good and the fact that there was a “ Celtic Fair” taking place. We danced by the HARBOUR, near to the Liverpool Arms Pub which was an excellent space and surface for dancing, and with another good audience.
In early afternoon a short drive took us to PADARN COUNTRY PARK, LLANBERIS Padarn Country Park is the location of some of North Wales’ most amazing attractions. At this unique site one can discover the giant Waterwheel, the old Quarry Hospital with its gruesome implements, Steam Trains, Lake Cruises, a National Museum with demonstrations of the quarryman's skills, Nature and Heritage Trails, Climbing, Scuba Diving, water activities such as Canoeing & Sailing, and Craft Workshops.
Here, we were joined by Cadi Ha Morris(Jan ‘s side) for our afternoon’s dancing near to the craft workshops. It was good to dance with another side and we all enjoyed the experience. In the centre of our good sized and paved dance area was a flagpole, which we attempted to dance “Hindley” around. Paul was not too sure how successful it was!
At the end of the afternoon we said “goodbye” to Cadi Ha and started the return journey over the LLANBERIS PASS. It was a beautiful spectacular drive which we all enjoyed. However………we were not the only ones on the road that day in such a beautiful tourist area and about ½ hour away from the hotel we joined a traffic jam. The hotel put back the time of our evening meal and we waited for things to clear and did our best to amuse ourselves. One bus found entertainment looking at a car just in front, where a man kept on taking baby(s) out of the back seat, changing them and putting back…. and then another came out …how many were there ?we will never know.
And so we eventually got back to the hotel, rather tired, to eat our delayed dinner in our own private dining room; this should have been followed by MUSIC AND CEILLIDH, but it was late and everyone was tired so there was very little dancing –a great pity.
DAY 4 MONDAY 27th MAY
Having missed out on our visit to Chester on Saturday, we now had the opportunity for a visit and had our first spot of the day dancing at the famous Chester Rows. Chester Rows consist of covered walkways at the first floor behind which are entrances to shops and other premises. At street level is another set of shops and other premises, many of which are entered by going down a few steps. The Rows, found in each of the four main streets of the city of Chester, are unique; nothing precisely similar exists anywhere else in the world. Dating from the medieval era, the Rows may have been built on top of rubble remaining from the ruins of Roman buildings, but their origin is still subject to speculation. Undercrofts or “crypts" were constructed beneath the buildings in the Rows. The undercrofts were in stone while most of the buildings in the Rows were in timber. Today about 20 of the stone undercrofts still exist, but at the level of the Rows very little medieval fabric remains. Chester Rows are one of the city's main tourist attractions.
Having given everyone a little taste of Chester, we departed for our main venue for the day-ARLEY HALL. Arley is a place of enormous character, charm and interest. Visitors are frequently struck by the warm and intimate atmosphere and the feeling that Arley is a much-cherished family home. It is the home of Lord and Lady Ashbrook. The Gardens, which are amongst the finest in Britain, are outstanding for their vitality, variety and historical interest and are particularly celebrated for the magnificent double herbaceous border. The Hall is an impressive example of a Victorian country house built in the Elizabethan style.
A dance spot before lunch in the grounds was followed by lunch in the Tudor Barn and a chance to view the lovely view the gardens, to which we had been given free admission. This was followed by a further dance spot in the barn by the clocktower (the weather had for the first time this tour become a little inclement). Following this we departed for the long drive home which was broken by a stop at the University of Nottingham where we had an opportunity to dance “Portland Hill” on Portland Hill and have a leisurely stop for refreshment in one of the refectories, before the journey home. As always happens on tour, it is the last part of the journey home when everyone falls silent (or very much quieter!). And so everyone was duly decanted at their correct stop after what had been a great weekend. Next year Kent!