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Prospects of Whitby [Aug. 26th, 2017|10:31 pm]
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It's a Bank Holiday weekend, and the radio promises us mayhem on the roads. We have no intention of going anywhere. Last weekend, though, we paid our annual visit to Whitby, to spend some time with the Bears who were there for their summer holiday, otherwise known as Whitby Folk Week.

Back when we were planning our visit, I asked BoyBear if Sunday of Folk Week was different to any other day of Folk Week, and since he said it wasn't, we arranged to make our visit on the Sunday, that being his birthday. What he didn't say, because he didn't know, was that the first weekend of Folk Week is also, this year, the weekend of the Regatta, and that as a result the town is even busier than usual, and there is nowhere to park. We found this out when we reached our hotel (the Pier) and were told, normally we'd give you a parking permit, but the bays where that's valid are closed for the Regatta. I was mildly annoyed about this, because I had, when I booked online, said we would want parking, and if we'd been warned that it wasn't available, we might have reconsidered that rather arbitrary choice of day. Other than that, I was happy with the hotel (a bit noisy, but so centrally located that this was inevitable). We found parking up at the abbey, and all it cost us was money - we bought 24 hours, and used precisely that.

It was a long drive round to get there, but then a short walk down the steps (not the ones you're thinking, probably, but Caedmon's Trod) which deposited us very close to where the Bears were staying. The owner of their usual flat has started using online booking, and didn't think to alert her regulars, so they'd had to find somewhere else. This was less central for the Festival venues, but right in town, and has a balcony on which we ate lunch:

Lunch on the roof terrace

The Bears had selected two events for us to go to, which (purely by chance, I think) gave us a very northeastern programme - and also one where we avoided the long queues, which was just as well, because there is, in fact, a difference between the Sunday of Folk Week and other days, which is that you can't buy day tickets for the weekend, you have to buy a weekend ticket, and I'd drawn the line at that. Since season ticket holders have priority entry to concerts, we didn't have a chance of getting into the most popular concerts, so it's just as well we didn't want to. Instead, we went in the afternoon to a concert compered by Sandra Kerr and featuring past and present students from the Newcastle Folk Degree course. The highlight was the Teacups, all four of them, making a splendid noise, with some familiar songs and some I hadn't heard before, and ending up with Dance to thy daddy.

The decision to spend the evening at the Folk Club was based on the fact that this was the evening all five members of Dorten Yonder were free to go, and their best chance of getting a floor spot, and not at all that the MC was Vic Gammon and one of the guests was Alistair Anderson. So we got to hear a couple of songs from Dorten Yonder (On the Road to Bremen and Morning Light), a set from Alistair Anderson and someone I'd never heard of, Joe Penland. He was born and brought up on the Appalachians, and learned the traditional songs from their singers, as part of a living tradition. So it made an interesting echo, to hear him talk about learning songs from older singers in the same way as Alistair Anderson talked about learning from the Northumberland shepherds. Except that Joe Penland's songs are all traditional, many of them the ballads that made their way from England and Scotland to the Appalachians where they were collected by Cecil Sharp and, later, Alan Lomax. Whereas strictly speaking, I don't think Alistair Anderson played anything traditional: it was all Will Atkinson wrote this or Billy Pigg wrote this or even this is one I weote - but Will Atkinson named it!

In the morning, GirlBear went off to play melodeon, and BoyBear joined me and [personal profile] durham_rambler for a visit to the abbey. Pause here to imagine me ranting about how English Heritage seem to have done away with the information boards that tell you where you are and what you are seeing, and substituted boards which tell you which number to press on your audio guide to be patronised by an irritating voice role playing some imagined figure from history. I could, I suppose, have bought the guide book, but maybe I should just dig out my old blue guide. But it was a beautiful morning, fresh and bright, and we wandered around and enjoyed the old stones and the views of the sea. I wasn't entirely satisfied with any of my pictures, but this one comes closest:


By this time, our 24 hours were up, and we came home, after some dithering, over the moors, where the heather was in bright purple bloom.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.