Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Grade A Grey Days

For the past five days, it has been unseasonally overcast grey, windy with occasional heavy showers (and a severe weather warning for rain!), and the forecast for the next four days is similarly 'unsettled' (including a forecast for hail!). For a couple of days it was so darkly cloudy my solar garden lights didn't charge. What happened to the summer?

I know I bang on about the weather in true Brit style. Of course I do, it's so changeable and varied across the country, affecting our moods and activities. I get a bit fed up of the generalisations in headlines and weather forecasts, which seem to be centred on an area roughly including London and south-central England and an audience who want to know if they will be rained on during the school run/rush hour or weekend barbecue. A friend from the home counties messaged me the other day, finishing 'hope you're enjoying the sunshine' (because it was about 30oC where she was) and was surprised that it was tipping down here, and had been for days.
No playing outside today
Partial double rainbow, late afternoon sun

The cats are also pretty fed up when they can't play outside. At least with rain, there's a chance there'll be rainbows.

No viewing the Perseid meteor show for me - it was overcast, although the light cloud didn't obscure the Blue Moon at the end of July.
Blue Moon, 31 July 2015
By the time I had finished various jobs and errands on the last sunny day (a week ago!) it was evening. I went off to Broadhaven thinking I would swim, as the tide would be coming in over sun-warmed sand. But the clouds were already gathering for the rain party and I sat on the shore in a stiff onshore breeze and a sweatshirt, using my beach wrap as a scarf. There were people in the water, playing ball and swimming. As they emerged, I saw that everyone was wearing a wetsuit!

Broadhaven Sunset
The sunset was nice, but nothing spectacular. Despite taking an antihistamine, my hands were starting to itch with cold-induced urticaria and I hurried off back to the car, forgetfully leaving my newly-cleaned beach mat on a rock. I didn't realise I'd left it until I got home and felt guilty about leaving it as if it were litter. I hope someone picked it up and will get some use out of it themselves - although it probably won't be this week.

The Met Office forecasts are generally pretty reliable (although there are plenty of instances where the forecast shows sun and I look out at drizzle) and they have a blog. It includes news items on worldwide weather; tropical cyclones putting our grey rainy days into perspective. I was alarmed to see that the BBC were changing the source of their forecast information to another provider, so it will be very interesting to see how accurate that will be. I've tried some other sources, but generally come back to the Met Office for UK weather.

Sunset through office window
The old rhyme about red sky at night doesn't seem to be working, as I've seen lovely sunsets followed by rainy days and pink dawns followed by sun. I wish I could forecast spectacular sunsets so that I could see them on the coast - I see the best sunsets from my (slightly grubby) office and bedroom windows.
Sunset sky with Preselis in distance
Dawn sky with Preselis in distance

I hope we'll get some more warm, sunny weather before we have to accept that Autumn is with us. I don't want to give up on Summer just yet!

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Cardigan Belly Dance Festival 2015

The years go by so quickly! It didn't seem any time at all since last year's Cardigan Belly Dance Festival and here we were again!

With class numbers so low and money in short supply, the Haverfordwest class became the Spittal class, which was the only one to contain performers and we were only meeting once a fortnight. A couple of dancers had challenged me to create a simpler choreography to a catchy pop song, so I did. In the event, one of the dancers who chose the music had so much going on in her life that she didn't make it to class at all to learn it! (Nor did she make it to the show to see it. Another former Imago dancer, whose life had become too busy to dance, had chosen that day for her wedding, so she went to that instead!)

One major disadvantage of fortnightly classes is the ease with which everything is forgotten between classes. Sometimes it seemed like we were starting afresh every lesson. Then the show looms ahead and there's a last minute panic to get it learned and rehearsed.

Costuming was simple - all variations on summer dresses or skirts and tops (with some bling, naturally!). Big flowery hairbands have been in fashion this summer, so I took a welcome break from cleaning and sorting out to find my stash of cheap, artificial flowers and elastic to create some hair bands for the six of us who performed.

I am so envious of my colleague Rose's class numbers, enabling her to present several pieces while I can scarcely manage enough dancers for one. However, several of her dancers were in more than one piece, which presented rather a challenge for me in setting the running order. It struck me while I was trying to achieve a flow to the show as well as provide time for dancers to change costumes and breathe, that it should be possible to have an app to create a running order. You put in some variables, like the style and length of the piece and the key dancers, and it uses rules like key dancers need 10 minutes before they dance again, and don't follow a piece with another of the same style (so you don't get drum solos one after another, for instance). It set me wondering whether I could learn to create the app. Not this year, though!

There was the predictable last minute scramble for dancer's details and sadly, last minute drop-outs, but the I got the tech details sorted the day before and still managed a good night's sleep.

Once again, the newest dancer not only made her debut in an Imago piece, she did the 'Pop-Up Troupe' workshop and performed the piece that they'd learned during the day. I was so proud!  It looked great fun, this year provided by Stephanie Gawne. I knew I wouldn't be able to dance all day and perform at night, so spent my time briefing and helping the theatre tech and putting glittery finishing touches to the hairbands.

I had decided not to do a solo this year, knowing that I really would not make the time to rehearse, let alone find space in the house still full of boxes and misplaced furniture, all of it filthy! It was something of a search to find the summer dress I planned to wear.

The show seems to get better every year, with our guest stars and local dancers alike providing a good variety. This year's programme included a solo on a suspended hoop. I had hoped to be able to start the second half with this, to allow the rig to be put together during the interval, but I was told that a 'surprise' act wanted that slot.  I had guessed that it was a couple of Imago dancers, and guessed which ones, but was indeed surprised by their act as a couple of belly dancing char-ladies. Such a laugh!

I missed most of the short post-show jam, too busy chatting to people, and we were all out of the theatre by 11.00 pm. Between long drives home and the need to get up for workshops the following day, nobody stays to dance the night away any more! I have a longer drive to Cardigan now too, so got home around midnight and it was 1.00 am by the time I'd fed the cats, put the flowers my lovelies had given me in water, removed my make up and wound down enough for bed.

The following morning, I drove back to Cardigan to get in touch with my inner Egyptian (Zara is so funny and does wonderful workshops!). I brushed up my ATS in the afternoon, revising fades and learning a new move (what more do you need from a workshop?). Then, just like that, it was over for another year.