I was up quite early on Sunday morning, and took my bags to the baggage room above reception, because we had to clear out our hall, and then went for a walk to take a picture of the Collingwood College sign (I knew nothing about it at the time, and was just intrigued by the name - it turns out to be another Collingwood - a great-great nephew, if I've counted correctly, who was a mathematician. I didn't know there was another one famous enough to have things named after him.) It was a nice morning, and a nice walk, but by the time I got back to the union the Molly workshop had started, and although I love Molly my foot was telling me it might not be a good idea to stomp around on it for an hour, so I just watched. And they were doing something with strange concentric rights and lefts that I couldn't mke much sense of anyway, although it was impressive to watch when it went right. They finished that with some time to spare, and did something that they said was the College Hornpipe, although it wasn't like any College Hornpipe I've ever seen.
For the second slot I went to the Scottish Country workshop, mainly because I wanted to watch and learn from the teacher - and I came away even more impressed with her ability to not only make things sound easy but to actually make them easy, and still without a clue how she does it. It was a good workshop for the crowd, I think - they didn't do anything very difficult, maybe, but it wasn't working on the idea that scottish is something strange and difficult which has to be done right, which you sometimes see. And they did get through quite a lot - a few ceilidh dances, a bit of footwork, The Barmkin, which is a square set which could almost be a ceilidh dance, and the Deil Amang the Tailors, with proper progression.
The third slot was Playford, which was the workshop I most wanted to go to. It was set up as a bit of a reaction against the idea that English Country is something dull and slow for old people, which doesn't really work so well if, like me, the only time you do it is at IVFDF. So it started off with a story (at which point we all sat in a circle on the floor and looked expectant) about the times and the political climate where Playford was publishing his books, before we went on to dancing. We started with The Black Nag, and ended with the Guid Man of Balangigh, both of which I've done before, and I can't remember what I learned in between, but it was fun while I was there, although I always find the timing of English dances quite odd. And I do want to try to write a scottish version of the Guid Man which has more of the feel of the (brilliant) english version than the RSCDS version does (it's pretty awful, which is a shame).
Sunday afternoon - Tynemouth
From the time the Durham IVFDF was first announced, I've been thinking how nice it would be to have another northern IVFDF, so that I could make it to the end of the survivor's ceilidh for once, but when it actually came around, I ran off at the end of the last workshop, after a few quick goodbyes, to go to Tynemouth for the memorial ceremony at the Collingwood monument there.
I was still on my way down the road when the Royal Sovereign's guns were 'fired', so all I can really say is that the seagulls didn't like it much. By the time I got up the hill, they were having a church service in a big white tent, while an impressive number of people were gathered on the hill and down the slope to the river - a lot more than I expected, even if some had just come to see things going bang.
They were playing the service over loudspeakers, but you could only hear it from a few places - I listened for a while, and then wandered down the slope to the water's edge in time to see HMS Cumberland coming down the river. After that there were a lot of things going bang for a while, including an amazing smoke ring from one of the guns on shore which made everyone around me laugh.
I went back up the slope then and saw the sailors who had been on the monument marching off it, and after a while they started letting people up, or at least not stopping them when they ducked under the rope, so I made it up onto the monument to see the wreaths.
One of my favourite things, I think, was standing there on the monument afterwards and hearing a man beside me telling the lady he was with about how at one point Collingwood and Nelson had been mucking about with the same woman, and that Royal Sovereign was so fast and so far in the lead at Trafalgar because she had just been cleaned, as if these were things that had happened last week, or last year.
This was all followed by a comedy interlude where two boys who were playing on the monument had lost their ball over the edge, and I was trying to throw it back to them - I can't really throw straight at the best of times, I'd had almost no sleep, and my attempts at throwing higher kept going backwards - I was falling about laughing (which made things worse), they were falling about laughing and trying to coach me, and it really would have been much quicker for them to come down, although possible not as entertaining. After that I went for a walk along the seafront - I have never before finished an IVFDF weekend by walking along the beach eating ice cream, but I recommend it - maybe Aberdeen?
I like the feel of Tynemouth - I think I could have had a very enjoyable holiday there as a child - and both times I've been have been absolutely beautiful days. And I still haven't been to the priory, so I might have to go back again.
After that I went back to Newcastle, found I was too late to try Fenwicks for the Collingwood Festival beer, wandered to St Nicholas's to see if there was anything new at the memorial there, and then almost fell asleep in the station for a while before failing to fall asleep on the train.
So I had fun, and it was a good weekend - it's just a shame it was all the same weekend, because I could also have had a lot of fun with the Collingwood events - going to the concert in Morpeth, and listening to storytelling, and watching Master and Commander, and exploring, and watching the parade in Newcastle, and still finishing up in Tynemouth.
And I think Menorca has won over Spring Fling.