Lately I've been working my butt off (hence the lack of blog posts) and though most of the time it's fun, every now and then I need a break from the constant demands and responsibilities that my job now entails. So when a business meeting down in Devon found its way into my diary, I seized the opportunity to combine it with a picobreak, staying with the lovely Harriet (who I miss terribly) in Slapton. It so happened that she had arranged a shindig that night at the local pub with her Morris dancing side, Beltane Border. And yes, they are those scary looking blacked-up variety - though it's not a racist thing I'm told.
As I arrived at Harry's, the sun was shining and I was feeling blissfully detached from the office, being so many miles away from Brighton on the beautiful South Devon coast. As Harry and Linda donned their costumery and prepared for the dancing, I sat soaking up the sunset and drinking cider, my brow swiftly un-furrowing as I watched the world go by. The pub was buzzing with tourists and locals, all intrigued by the gathering swarm of imposing black-clad figures. The sound of a lone fiddle and accompanying Celtic drums signalled the start of the show and everyone nodded and bobbed along as the various energetic dances unfolded, each introduced with an anecdote, myth or theme to add a splash of colour.
Fuelled with cider and pagan magic, I helped Harry get a fire on the beach started and kicked back with her fellow dancers and other assembled groupies for a classic evening of bonfire bantering, ale swigging and moonlit swimming. I hadn't felt so relaxed since our holiday in France and was sad when the night came to a natural conclusion just before dawn and it was time to say goodbye to new found friends and start thinking about the long drive back in the morning. A final swig of chai and a quick didgeridoo jam in the back of a campervan (thanks Amy, Jon & Lee), followed by toast and marmite back at Harriet's and it was time to place my happy head on the pillow and dream of future adventures.
This little video has some highlights of Beltane's dances (plus a bonus feature at the end) and you can see some of our beach antics via this Flickr set of mine. Fellow camera geek (and excellent chap) Jon, who I met on the night, also has this brilliant set of pics on Facebook which is well worth a look.