05 November 2007

The Yarn Market

I love this country, England. I love living here, despite everything. Despite the gloomy weather, and the constant chill, the plain bad food, and the shocking price tag of mere living.

There are so many simple things, though, that quickly erase the negatives.

Like dancing.

When I moved to London in 2003, I was not a dancer. It wasn't that I was anti-dancing, no. It's just that I really hadn't had the opportunity to dive into dancing. Sure, I had taken two-step classes in Texas, as you do. And swing-dance classes in San Francisco. But they were just that: classes. It wasn't as though I got sucked into the local dancing subculture or anything.

And then came London. I stumbled upon the Cecil Sharp House because I was in pursuit of costumed dance. I like to sew, and I like to study historical dress, so I thought it would be cool to dance in period costume, to period music. Little did I know what I was getting into.

As I'm sure I've done before, I like to encourage everyone to dance. Just take a dance class, any class. It's so much fun. There's no way you can be stressed or sad or upset if you're dancing. I'm sure of it. Dancing can only enhance your life.

Anyway, to take it all a step further, for the truly obsessive-compulsive, there are so many neat dancing weekends around England. I've had the Big Fun of going away to several of these dancing weekends. It's one of the best things I've ever done. What's more fun than meeting some of your dancing friends in some quaint English village in the countryside, staying in a neat old hotel, and dancing from morning till night?

This past weekend, my square-dancing friend came into town (from Germany!), and we ventured to North London. There she is, in the brightly colored square dance outfit----the veritable belle of the ball!

I wasn't allowed on the floor since I am not a certified square dancer.

Don't laugh! It's true. Square dancers are very rule-oriented. You have to go through a long series of square classes before they'll even let you on the dance floor. Which isn't such a bad idea, if you think of it. If everyone on the dancefloor is actually certified, then that means that (in theory) everyone knows what they're doing, and therefore the dance should be good.

A good dance is a good thing. While with any type of dance, the experienced dancers like to make the newcomers feel welcome, still, in their heart of hearts, experienced dancers wish that everyone on the dancefloor was certifiably good.

The day after the square dance, my friend and I made our way via train to Dunster, which is one of the cutest towns I've ever seen. It's way out of the way, but well worth the trip.

For the dancing weekend, the Yarn Market Hotel was booked with dancers. What fun! The dancing was done next door in the Town Hall. How quaint!

In the above photo, the gazebo-esque structure is, in fact, the old 14th century yarn market, situated directly in front of the hotel. This yarn market was where our knitting ancestors would buy and sell their fiber wares.

Inside the yarn market, it's all wood and beams and stonework and leaded glass.

The view from the hotel is amazing. It's so Somerset, so English countryside!

This time of the year was beautiful. The autumn leaves were turning, and what's there not to like about red vines entangling the chimney of this thatched-roof cottage?

Between dance sessions, I took every opportunity to walk around the town. It's a perfect town for walking. It's just so quaint! And, of course, there's the obligatory old church and graveyard and gargoyles and a Tudor gatehouse.

This rounded tower below is the pigeon house, where pigeons were raised to be eaten. Apparently, it was a delicacy.

Inside the pigeon house, you can see the pigeonholes, where the pigeons would sit, and the ladder used to access said pigeonholes.

We, as a dancing group, took a nice walk in the countryside. Here's a graveyard in the foreground, then the village, then the sea.

I'll never tire of seeing a green green English pasture dotted with white sheep.

The evening was punctuated with fireworks due to Guy Fawkes Night.

My traveling knitting project for this weekend was the mitered socks, which has proven to be a very time consuming project, indeed! Each triangle takes me 45 minutes to complete, and each sock has 23 triangles. You do the math!