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OK. Technically this is day 15 in the ongoing saga, but hopefully it's a bit more like a regular update and rather less like me relentlessly documenting life without ligaments :) (Instead, I shall relentlessly waffle on about rapper.)

DERT practice )
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Hello! If you are a person with complicated dietary requirements, maybe you can give me some advice.

Advise me! )
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Errr, ooops. At various times I have said to people "I'll let you know if my team is dancing in your area". And, as I get up nicely and early to hop on a train to Peterborough, it occurs to me that some of those people are in Cambridge, and that that is quite close to Peterborough. And thus it would have been useful if I'd mentioned this somewhat before this morning[*].

So! I imagine this is far too late, but if anyone is wandering the fens wondering what to do with their Saturday, then I shall be dancing at the Havest Festivaltoday. I have absolutely no idea what it's going to be like, or how it's all going to work :-)

[*} I went to Whitby for the festival in late August, went to my parents' house, came back to London for three days, and went off on holiday with ChrisC for nearly a fortnight. I am thus massively disorganised. Even more so than usual.

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So, yes. Last weekend was DERT, and I took myself of to Bristol to compete, drink beer and catch up with friends. Disappointingly, by the time I arrived at the main venue some other blighters had drunk all the beer, but I managed to do some catching up.

The Competition )

The Rubber Hand Incident )

Pictures )

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What with all the organising, planning and general cat-herdery of getting two rapper teams to Brussels (and back without mishap or arrest) last weekend, DERT has somewhat crept up on me this year. For those who haven't been listening to me bang on for years, DERT is the annual competition for the kind of sword dancing (rapper) that I do.

DERT 2015is in Bristol, and Mabel Gubbinsare back in their spiritual home of the Championship League.

We're a bit under-rehearsed. If last night is anything to go by, at least some of us will be a bit hungover. We are (it turns out) almost old enough to compete a veterans.

But never mind... Wish us luck!

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Life isn't half getting in the way of this LJing lark. In summary, I have been to Belgium with Mabel Gubbins and North British Sword, and had a jolly nice time. As noted before, the Belgian public is extremely polite and will form an appreciative circle the moment you break out the swords and give notice that you are going to do A Thing.

Sorry, not swords, but "Morris dancing staves". This, after much thought, is what we call our sprung-steel weapons whenever we take them through security. The idea is to make them sound so fantastically boring that no one could possibly want to ask about them, for fear we might tell them.

Anyway, in easily digestible form:

Opinions of Brussels )

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Good morning, the internet. Does anyone know anything about Brussels?

My dance team are organising a trip for ourselves and another team there next Easter (location chosen mostly for presence of Belgian beer, and ability to get there on the train).

Right now we're at the planning stage, and looking for things to do, things to see and places to dance for a group of ~30 people. Also a (cheap) place to stay, and places to eat. I'm sure the internet, and the research trip Sally and I are planning, will turn up plenty, but if you have any special recommendations, I'd love hear them!
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Hurrah, we have the internet back! Someone had sliced through a critical cable, and Virgin Media Man has now, I dunno, knotted it back together or something. Expect a volley of blog posts, as various rough drafts from the last fortnight come out...

At the beginning of September, I went away for the weekend with my occasional dance team, Boojum.

Note for new(ish) readers: I do a form of traditional English folk-dancing called rapper. It looks a bit like this. It's from the north-east, and no one has ever heard of it. It involves short, bendy strips of metal which we (inaccurately) call swords, and usually happens in pubs. I belong to a team called Mabel Gubbins, based in Oxfordshire. Since Boojum formed in 2001 - of people scatted from Newcastle to Canterbury - I've also danced with them.

Boojum have always gone in for meeting up at odd times, in odd places, dancing wherever anyone would have us. We've had a lot of fun. But... we've decided to call it quits.

We've travelled the country for pleasure )
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Wait, what, it's August and Venta hasn't been to a folk festival in Whitby?

Of course I have, I just haven't found time to write it up here. Regular readers may assume that it was quite a lot like last year. Only a lot, lot windier. Dance displays at Capt. Cook's monument were all about trying not to get blown off the cliff and out to sea.

Unexpectedly, we managed a whole four days of dancing without injuring anyone seriously (unlike the Wallingford festival this weekend where our very first dance failed so badly someone ended up concussed).

However, as anyone who's ever been to any kind of festival knows, it's not a terribly restful sort of a holiday. Since getting back, I've mostly been either at work, asleep, or one-but-wishing-I-was-the-other.

Normal service will be attempted shortly. (This is also the first entry I've attempted on a phone, so humorous typos are Swype's fault. Anyone know a decent Android app for LJ?)
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Those of you who have seen my rapper team's Facebook updates will already know the punchline to this story: we had to pull out of the competition at the weekend.

Some bad news )

So we went to spectate, instead )

And I had a lovely Sunday lunch )
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Long-term readers will know that around this time of year DERT happens. DERT - the Dancing England Rapper Tournament - is the annual competition for the style of folk dancing that I do. This year it's in Leeds.

This year it is also an unexpectedly big deal for Mabel Gubbins. Firstly, we're in Premier.

Aaaargh! )

Secondly, as of this moment there are no takers to run DERT next year.

Aaaargh! )

Anyway, if you're in or around the Leeds area, there will a range of opportunities for watching sword dancing in pubs a week on Saturday. You can watch the finest teams in the land, nay, the world! Or, of course, you could watch us (but only if you cheer violently and help increase our buzz score).

Which also brings me to my other question: I shall be free of swords and other such things by Sunday lunchtime, does anyone Leeds-based fancy meeting up for a pub lunch, beer, coffee, or other social engagement? [ profile] strange_complex, [ profile] maviscruet, [ profile] nalsa, any others?
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A quick advert: a few times, people have said to me that they'd love to try rapper dancing, but that they're a bit scared because they're never done anything like it and they'll be crap. At the moment we have a few new people starting with Mabel Gubbins, and at least one of them has never even seen rapper dancing before. So, if you're female[*], and in Oxfordshire-ish, and you've ever thought you might like to give it a try, now would be a really great time - we'll[**] be teaching everything from the absolute basics.

Practices are Tuesday evenings 8pm - 9pm for beginners (hardcore Mabels stay til 10pm), in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

[*] If you're male, and in Londonish, try Thrales. They're very welcoming of beginners. I can try and offer suggestions of other teams if neither of these suits.
[**] Where by "we" I apparently mean "I" - think I blinked at a critical moment at the AGM :(
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So, at the end of August I ran away to Whitby for the folk festival (again). I've written about it here before, and... well... much the same sort of stuff happened. I did some dancing, some playing music, some listening to music, some drinking, some eating and lots of catching up with friends.

Flash clog dancing, the generalised idiocy of rapper teams, and a surprise from Coventry )
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Hello! I'm back from holiday. It was lovely; more on it later.

For now, though, I have a boring technical enquiry about webpages...

How shall I set up my bookings form? )

For those who don't do geeky questions, but do like either (a) The Smiths or (b) Snoopy, I recommend this.
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Last weekend saw me, with Mabel Gubbins, at the annual Lamb Ale held by Kirtlington Morris. As events go, it's rubbish for a rapper team. There are two pubs in the village, neither of which will let us inside to dance, so we do a lot of scuffing about on concrete. However! It's a grand social occasion, we get to see lots of other teams and generally hang out and eat lots of nice food.

Carrying on in Kirtlington )
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So, this year Good Friday saw me getting up hideously early and fighting my way through the crowds at Heathrow. I've never flown at Easter before. I think my advice is "don't". Queues. More queues. Queues to join queues. Heathrow had clearly expected an influx, and arranged extra holding pens for grumpy tourists. What they hadn't done was point out to their staff that explanations really help. Just shouting at people "go over there" isn't useful. I want to check in for a Lufthansa flight. Accordingly, I head for the massive Lufthansa check-in sign. If you want me to go the opposite way and walk through a door labelled Cyprus Airlines you really need to tell me that that's actually where the back of the Lufthansa check-in queue is. Cue a lot of quite stressed staff and quite stressed passengers.

Having arrived the recommended two hours before flying, we queued for two and a quarter. Fortunately, it seems the plane was queueing somewhere as well.

Then it was off to Lower Saxony )
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Miscellaneous extra thoughts from DERT...

Gender issues in the world of rapper )

Who is that music for? )
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Early March, you say? Doesn't that mean it's about time I wrote about the annual rapper dancing competition, DERT? Why yes, it is.

Going for a Burton )

Leodensians! People of Leeds! The dance extravaganza, beer bonanza and all-round travelling circus that is DERT rolls into your city next year. See you there ;)
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So... anyone got any ideas on how to bake a beer-flavoured cake?

Having been caught up in the heady excitement of my rapper team's Facebook page, I have accidentally agreed to make someone a cake "made out of beer". I have remarkably little idea of how to proceed.

A quick google suggests that recipes for chocolate and stout cake exist. My mum makes a Guinness cake, but (although it's lovely) it tastes more of fruit cake than of Guinness. I'm currently inclining towards this Spiced Beer Cake recipe - though again I'm worried that the spices (while nice) will detract from the beery flavour.

Any advice? Please note I don't want a cake that looks like a foaming tankard, or is iced to resemble a bottle... I want a cake that contains and (preferably) tastes noticeably of beer.

I need to bake my cake next Thursday (to be delivered on Friday), so not a lot of time for experimentation...
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Oxfordians! People of Oxford!

Don't forget that tomorrow afternoon is an ideal chance to get your annual dose of sword-dancing in pubs. And cake, if you turn up at the KA around 4pm.

Full details here:

We're expecting ten guest teams this year, so it should be a busy 'un.


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July 2017



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