Saturday morning started far too early with the fire alarm going off about 6am, but they did let us back to bed after a while, and when we got up again the advantage of our far away hall became apparent, because there was a cafe upstairs which had opened for our breakfast, so we were well fed before having to walk into town.
For the first slot I went to a workshop called 'Dances for the brave' - things which were a bit unusual or interesting or difficult. And it would have been a good workshop, only there were far too many people for the room it was in, so it was difficult to move, and some people couldn't hear, and some people didn't seem to be listening - when told to do something slightly different they did what they'd expected to be told and not what they had actually been told. So I can't remember anything I learnt there, which is a bit of a shame.
The second slot was Border Morris - I generally like Morris where you get to stamp around and wave sticks, and dislike Morris where they care what your feet are doing, and you have to wave hankies, I just can never remember which was which. So having worked it out, this was good, and I loved the team's outfits - kind of Edwardian Gothic, all black and lace with hints of red or green or purple, finished off with dark glasses (the men were comparatively dull in black trousers and waistcoats and white shirts, although some of the musicians did have nice coats). I don't actually remember the dance now, although it was fairly simple, but I had fun.
For the third slot there wasn't much I wanted to do, so I decided to wander off with the intention of having lunch, and going to the railway station to find out about train times, and going to take a picture of the Collingwood College sign (I'm just making a collection of Collingwood things). What I actually did was went to the cathedral for a while, and then to the station (which is far away up a hill, like most things in Durham), and then bought some lunch and wandered up to the market square to buy raspberries and eat everything there - but the seats were all next to a noisy fairground ride, so I went back up to the cathedral square, discovered that part of the morris tour was also there, and had my lunch to the accompaniment of their music.
The fourth slot was contra, which is definitely growing on me. It was mostly just dances, with occasional stops to tell us how we could be doing something differently, or better, and it was all good fun.
Saturday afternoon and evening - the display ceilidh and other dances
Due to some odd timetabling, the display ceilidh started 45 minutes before the workshops ended, so it must have been going for a while before I got there. It was all good - I'm not sure whether top place should go to Aberdeen's wombles or Exeter's choreography, but all the dems were enjoyable to watch. I was just too tired to dance much, and they were doing that odd thing where they get people up for one dance, and then tell the same people to rearrange themselves for the next dance, without giving people a chance to swap in or out, or to dance with someone else.
After that I really just wanted to sleep, and had seen a very comfortable looking couch in one of the rooms beside the baggage room where I planned to do it, but I went off first to see if I could find the place with the showers you had to pay for, failed, and made do with a rather cold wash in a sink. After that I curled up for a while, and then went off to try to find some dinner and go to the contra. The dinner thing was all a bit of a failure - I wanted pizza, couldn't find any, eventually found a place, had to wait forever, and then it was awful. So then I was late for the contra.
The contra was fun, but not as good as the workshop, I think - it had the usual English ceilidh problems (from my point of view) of being too dark and too loud, and it was hard to hear the calling from the back of the room, which led to some confusion, but I did at least get some good beer.
When that ended I went over to the Northumbrian ceilidh (which had its lights on, although the caller was possibly turned up a bit too loud, so that you could hear but not necessarily understand him). It was a mixture of dances you would do at a Scottish ceilidh, dances you would do at an English ceilidh, and dances I haven't come across anywhere else (and some you were meant to rant, which I can't do), interspersed with 'turns' - a clog dancer, and some very good male singers were the ones I saw.
It would have been better with more people I knew there, but I enjoyed it, I collected some new ceilidh dances, and after another pint and a half of very nice beer I was suddenly struck by the inspiration for a dance I've been trying to find for a while - there was a lot of scribbling things on the back of fliers towards the end, between that and the dances I was learning.
I thought I better at least show my face at the late night dancing - and my bag was in the baggage room there anyway - but when I turned up there was only one set dancing, in a room which would really only hold one set, and I just wandered off to bed again.