Hanter Dro #0: Video! (IVFDF 2013)

When I searched for a video of Hanter Dro soon after learning it, I couldn’t find anything. But this morning, C was on youtube and found this brilliant video of Boggarts performing Hanter Dro at IVFDF this year! It was only uploaded a few days ago – had to share!

Isn’t it an amazing dance? Plus it’s lovely to have such a clear video to check my notes against – writeups of the chorus and figures are on their way, I promise!

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Hanter Dro #1: Stepping and Sticking (IVFDF 2013 #3)

This is the first of what will be a many-part (6? ish?) series on the dance ‘Hanter Dro’ by Boggarts Breakfast, which I learnt at IVFDF 2013 in Sheffield. All of this will be the dance as I understand it from that workshop (and having seen it danced out a couple of times); I believe there isn’t a written crib for it. Apologies if I get anything wrong, or am too prescriptive about bits!

I thought I’d start by talking about the music and the step, and introducing you to my glamorous assistants who will be helping me to demonstrate how this rather delightfully complicated dance works.

The dancers: Bunny, Clown, Hat, Ninja, Red, and Storm.

The lego morris dancers

I think the lightsabers might chop some of the other sticks in half

The musicians: (they don’t get names. Unless you suggest some in the comments :))

The lego morris musicians - lego figures with assorted musical instruments

There’s totally a violin in that case! What else would it be?


The music used for this dance is Nothing Hill (Hanter Dro) by Zef – they’re a French band who are, I’m assured, happy for this tune to be used for morris dancing. The version I’ve got written down is in 6/4 time – things in 6s are unusual (for Morris; Hanter Dro is a Breton dance/dance style which works in 6s).


To use the 6 beats, it’s a double-step-single-step. This is not symmetrical, don’t assume that it is or you’ll end up on the wrong foot very quickly and get rather confused! The double-step starts on the right, and the single-step on the left, so you go “Right-left-right-hop1-Left-hop2“. As a rule, you move on the double-step (Right-left-right-hop) and step on the spot on the single-step (Left-hop)3. Also, there is lots of beautiful turning as you move (looks great with tatter jackets). These turns are always right (aka right-shoulder-back4, or ‘the same way as in a Petronella’) and take place during the double-step, ideally on the right-left-right bit (because turning while hopping is awkward).


This dance has a beautiful stick-throwing chorus. In the whole dance, there are only two kinds of sticking – and they’re the same, really, just one of them you throw your stick to your partner and in the other you clash your stick with your partner instead. All sticking is right handed – although it would all work if everyone did it left-handed, a mixture of the two would probably end badly. You don’t step while you’re sticking.

In my head, the sticking goes up-down-flip-and-throw-(catch), and the sticking-clash goes up-down-flip-and-clash (you clash on beat 5 and hold through beat 6, so in my head it’s in bold as it’s twice as long).

In more detail:

UP – holding your stick towards the bottom, raise it in the air in with your arm extended straight, and the stick roughly following the line of your arm. Your arm should be slightly in front of you – maybe a 20 or 30 degree angle with the vertical?

DOWN – bring your arm/stick down to bash the floor (this is why you needed to be holding your stick at the bottom; if you’re holding it in the middle you won’t be able to reach the floor!). As before, the stick is held roughly in line with the arm.

FLIP – let go of your stick and sort of throw it to yourself, making it do a 180-degree spin. It should essentially look like the end which hit the floor bounced back.

AND – catch the stick, in the middle, and prepare to throw by pulling your arm back until the stick is at least level with your shoulder (further back is probably OK too). You should be holding the stick in the middle, with the stick vertical (roughly though not exactly at right angles to your forearm).

(momentarily, between ‘and’ and ‘throw’, catch your partner’s eye. If they don’t catch your eye, do not throw your stick at them. Carry out the rest of the movements, i.e. do draw your stick back and extend your arm towards them – this helps you not to lose the rhythm – just don’t let go of the stick.)

THROW – throw the stick to your partner, by using your arm to push it forwards vertically through the air. You should be aiming at their left shoulder (i.e. not their stick-shoulder, the other – empty – one) and they should be aiming at yours. This makes it unlikely that your sticks will collide in mid-air; also if one of you misses the catch the stick is more likely to hit an arm/shoulder than a head, which is a Good Thing.

(CATCH) – catch the stick your partner threw at your empty shoulder, with your right hand (by reaching across your body). OK, catching in your left and swapping to your right is probably fine too …

Sticking-clash: Up-down-flip-and as above (except that if you’re really thinking about it you’ll want to end the ‘and’ holding the bottom of your stick, not the middle) and on the 5th beat bring your stick up into a forehand clash with your partner and hold.

… and that’s all there is to it! It’s an unusual sticking pattern (or at least I haven’t come across anything else like it) and manages to make the 180-spin look good, which is quite an accomplishment. I think it’s all very, very cool.

More posts to come: probably 5 of them (chorus + 4 figures). Until then, happy dancing! 🙂

1hop on your right foot
2hop on your left foot
3Er, unless you’re standing still.
4when dancing, I think about turns in terms of right-shoulder-back or left-shoulder-back. I don’t cope well with ‘turn right’ or ‘turn left’ or ‘turn towards X’ which I think is because I associate directions like that with moving forwards (e.g. while driving, ‘turn left’ = ‘continue forwards until the next turning on the left, turn into it and keep going forwards’) which doesn’t help when dancing and turning while staying on the spot or moving backwards or sideways.

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Saturday Cheesecake

It’s been sunny today! You’d nearly think it might be sort of coming towards Spring (though I’m not getting my hopes up; it was snowing on Thursday). A warm, sunny day and a bit of spare money in the food budget made me think … CHEESECAKE!

(Actually, after thinking about cheesecake for a while I thought ‘hmm, that cheesecake-like lime pie recipe I have would be fab …’ and intended to make that, but I completely forgot that that recipe needs sweetened condensed milk, not cream cheese).

I kind of made things up a little bit on this, looking at several different recipes. It’s got a ginger biscuit base-and-sides (full sides inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s New York Cheesecake), and the filling is based on the BBC Good Food Baked Raspberry Cheesecake (though with fewer berries, as we had the tail end of a pack of frozen berries in the freezer so I just used those up). I’m planning to eat it with homemade Apricot jam/conserve … C’s Mum made lots recently, and gave us three jars when we visited at Easter 🙂
I’m in a good place with cooking at the moment. C cooks most of the time, but I’ll cook a couple of times a week, and we shop and meal plan together so I’ve usually got a good idea of what’s in the kitchen. This morning I made a quick lamb stew based on leftovers which turned out really well – it’s the first time I’ve tried something like that without a recipe, so that was really neat. It feels satisfying making things that use up the last of what you’ve got (although making a whole cheesecake to use up some frozen berries doesn’t exactly count as using up leftovers …).

Have you cooked anything exciting recently? 🙂

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Easter Day


God of glory,
by the raising of your Son
you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
for a new day has dawned
and the way to life stands open
in our Saviour Jesus Christ.


A bouquet of roses

Wishing you a happy and joyous day!

(whether you celebrate Easter or not)

(the Collect is from here)

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Flying Geese knitted blanket – finished!

I finished a knitting project recently! Hurray!

It’s a log-cabin-method-ish blanket based on the Flying Geese quilt pattern. I adapted the Flying Geese blanket from Mason-Dixon Knitting (p84-85) to be a bit larger and have fewer triangley-border-bits. The version in the book:

Mason-Dixon Knitting Flying Geese Blanket PatternMy version:
"Flying Geese" knitted blanketIt’s slightly more blue than it looks in that picture (i.e. the purple is not reddish-tinged, and the lighter colour is a light green that’s not particularly yellowy).

The purple diamond in the middle is really because I was running out of blue, but I like the way it turned out :).
Flying Geese Blanket closeup #1I changed the small squares’ colours, and the orientation of some of the border-strips – I’m really pleased with the symmetry that I was able to create by doing a 9-square version rather than the book’s 6-square version. It’s edged with a round of half-double-crochet, partly because I was sick of knitting triangles (they’re really cool, but after a while they get a bit tedious) but mostly because I was running out of purple yarn.

Flying Geese Blanket closeup #2The blue yarn came from a half-finished project C’s Mum had had and passed on to me to do something with, and I bought one ball each of the two greens and the purple somewhere (John Lewis in Cambridge, maybe?) and then lost most of the ball bands, so as well as the financial incentive not to buy any more yarn I’m not sure if I could have matched the colours/brand.

My sewing-up has definitely improved, which is really helpful. Some of it was joined as I went along – each large plain blue square was picked up and knitted from the edge of a triangle-stripe – but there was still lots of joining to do at the end, which I mostly did using ends that needed weaving in. I believe I started this c. October 2010, so it’s lovely to have it finally finished! (well, as you can see in the big picture above I still have to weave in the ends from the crochet edging – but I have woven in the ends from everything else, which took flippin’ AGES). 

Have you finished any crafty projects lately?

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A workshop with Professor Elemental (IVFDF 2013 #2)

IVFDF 2013, Saturday morning, 10:20am (a fairly civilised time): Rapper workshop with Professor Elemental.

I had high hopes for this, and wasn’t disappointed :). Lots of songs I enjoy singing along to have very wordy, slightly tongue-twistery lyrics, so playing about trying to write something similar sounded like fun. Especially with a guy who raps about Earl Grey, Britishness, and other things close to my heart*. And it was really neat to meet someone I had Heard About On the Internet in reality – here’s “Cup of Brown Joy”, which I understand is the track that kicked everything off for him and which I came across online a few years ago:

Now when I say ‘Earl Grey’ you say ‘Yes Please’ … those are my kind of lyrics!

The workshop was great. Paul (Professor Elemental is of course a persona, not his real identity …) was engaging and friendly and encouraging – important attributes for someone who’s trying to get a big group of people they’ve never met before to rap out loud in front of each other, within the space of an hour.

After a few tips (use polysyllabic words to make things sound cleverer; when looking for rhymes don’t go for the first one you think of – try and come up with something more unexpected; rhyme syllables not words e.g. “weirdo” with “beard, though”) he led us in brainstorming a subject for our piece – which ended up being about folk festivals.

After coming up with a few sub-subjects (people, instruments, dances, drinking, muddy fields) we were split into groups and given a couple of things to work on between us. The group I was in was asked to write a couple of lines each about ‘people’ and ‘drinking’. It ended up being a bit more about drinking than people … possibly because lots of things rhyme with ‘ale’ and not very many things rhyme with ‘eccentric’.

Here’s what we came up with – read it out loud; it sounds better that way:

Coming down Dance on down to IVFDF and here you’ll see
All the freaks and geeks Eclectic Eccentrics
Collected eccentrics from University
But we’re shocked and saddened by the lack of real ale.
Fail. It’s not like it’s the Holy Grail!

My tankard is empty, there’s nothing for sale
I want to get wankered, I hanker for ale
A porter, a stout or an Indian pale …

Oops, I’m astounded, I’m getting exerted
It’s queer ’cause I’m normally quite introverted
this rant that I blurted could have been averted
– if only beer from the pumps had spurted

(If you’ve got a complaint our grammar ain’t been right
It’s because we’re hammered –
complain on our website.)

It’s obviously not the most amazing piece of spoken-word poetry ever, but for 7 people who’d never worked together before coming up with something in half an hour I think we did pretty well. (And I learnt a new word – I’d never heard the term ‘wankered’ before; I understand it means ‘very drunk’.) There was, indeed, a lack of real ale (not that it bothered me personally) at the Octagon bar on Friday night – and there was one of us with an empty tankard. I think we were the only group with a prop!

Other people worked on choruses / another verse and at the end of the workshop we performed it all over a pre-recorded backing track. It was pretty awesome. There were some particularly great lyrics in the other verse as well, although  unfortunately I can’t remember any of them – they definitely had the word ‘melodeon’ in there.

Overall, it was brilliant. Now I’m home I’ve started looking up more of Professor Elemental’s work, and definitely want his latest CD (when I have some money!). Here’s a track from it:

Hurrah for IVFDF and interesting workshops :).

*I suspect, in a similar fashion to Catholic converts being ‘more Catholic than the Pope’, as someone who moved to Britain and subsequently gained British citizenship I probably esteem Britishness slightly more than many other British people.

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IVFDF 2013 (post #1)

Ceilidh dancing … check!
Contra dancing … check!
French dancing … check!
Tea-drinking … check!
Knitting … check!
Watching amazing Morris sides … check!
Learning new dances … check!
Catching up with friends … check!

IVFDF 2013 was awesome – I’m so glad I was able to go. Highlights included: seeing the wonderful Boggarts Breakfast and learning another one of their dances, taking part in a rap  (not rapper) workshop with Professor Elemental, and getting a chance to do some French couple-dancing. As well as catching up with people I haven’t seen in awhile :). Yay!

Psst, does anyone know if there’s a video of Boggarts dancing Hanter Dro – the dance in 6/8 time – online? I haven’t yet been able to find one …

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A whole month without posting? Whoops, when did that happen? (Er, February, obviously.)

I’ve been a bit up and down – nothing to worry about, but a bit more focused on eat/sleep/work/etc than on blogging. Having said that, I have been doing things that should make it onto here 🙂 most notably, I’ve almost finished the Flying Geese log-cabin knitted lap blanket that I started c. October 2011! And it does look rather good, if I do say so myself. Blue and purple and greens …

This weekend I’m off to IVFDF – a weekend folk festival aimed at students, this year hosted by Sheffield. Hurray! So no more posts til at least Monday – but hoping to be back here soon.


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Daddy-Long-Legs (Part 2)

(see Part 1 here)

Well, I’ve finished Daddy-Long-Legs (Jean Webster). I must say, it went distinctly uphill from the point I was at when I posted last (63% of the way through).

At that point, I was quite concerned about the power dynamics between Judy and Daddy-Long-Legs: wealthy older male anonymous benefactor and penniless younger female foundling who is telling him a great deal about herself including many quite private thoughts … this could go badly.

However, in the remaining third of the book, Judy pushes back rather more and insists on her own independence. Which is a pretty brave thing to do, really. Also, he doesn’t use his ‘unfair’ knowledge of her in an inappropriate or manipulative way, as I feared he might.

The person I had guessed would be Daddy-Long-Legs did indeed turn out to be he, so no surprises there. I was pleasantly surprised that the age gap was less than I had anticipated (14 years, which I believe puts them at ages 21 and 35 at the end of the novel). Webster also undercuts some of the power imbalance by having Daddy-Long-Legs really quite ill towards the end of the novel (in particular, in the scene when Judy finds out who he is), as well as giving Judy some small but significant financial success, which puts her in a much stronger position.

Overall, I’ve rather enjoyed this. It was an undemanding, perfectly pleasant read. Perhaps it’s a book that in its time (first published 1912) might have been important because it showed women going to College, but these days that is commonplace (hurrah!). I’ve seen from Wikipedia that there’s a sequel, ‘Dear Enemy’, composed of letters from Judy’s friend Sallie to various characters in the years following Daddy-Long-Legs. I’ll probably read that at some point, but it’s not going to the top of my list. (That’s probably a good indicator of what I thought of the book as a whole.)

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Daddy-Long-Legs (Part 1)

Recently, I have been reading Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster, having found it for free on kindle. I was vaguely aware of it as a “classic girls’ story”, perhaps something like the Little Women or Anne of Green Gables books – though I didn’t really know anything more about it than that.

It follows the story of a foundling, Jerusha, who is unexpectedly sponsored to go to college (i.e. University) by a mysterious and anonymous benefactor who requests that she sends him a letter each month describing her progress. Having once caught sight of him leaving the Home (asylum? orphanage?) where she was brought up and noting his long-limbed shadow, she nicknames him Daddy-Long-Legs and writes to him most confidingly.

It’s a very pleasant story. It’s nice, of course, to read of someone who hasn’t had many good things happen to her now enjoying innocent pleasures like buying non-hand-me-down dresses and making taffy. It reminds me rather of What Katy Did At School, although less moralistic in tone – Jerusha (soon calling herself Judy) openly admits to the occasional spot of temper, or jealousy. It’s one of the things that’s rather endearing about her.

I expect the story to end with the revelation of Daddy-Long-Legs’ identity. I’m pretty sure I know who it is; I’m 63% of the way through and guessed from the appearance of a character (at about 30%) that he would turn out to be Daddy-Long-Legs. There have been a couple of pretty obvious-to-the-reader clues. I also strongly suspect that they will end up romantically involved, although I hope not; she’s been writing to him as “Daddy” and that would be kind of creepy. Also (assuming I’m right) the way that she writes to him about himself is kind of delightful and kind of worrying … in that I feel he has a moral responsibility to let her know who he is or else encourage her not to write about him. You talk to people completely outside situations differently from how you talk to people involved in them, and when she’s writing to him as though he’s outside when really he’s inside … there’s a touch of dishonesty in not putting her straight, or finding some way to avoid the situation.

Overall, I’m enjoying reading it, and hope (though do not expect) to be surprised by some unforeseen twist towards the end of the story, revealing that Daddy-Long-Legs is actually someone completely different. Part 2 to come after I’ve finished it.

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