The last weekend in November is Hogswatch.
(for the uninitiated: Hogswatch is Discworld’s equivalent to Christmas. Discworld is Terry Pratchett’s alternate universe. Wincanton (a real town in England) is twinned with Ankh-Morporkh (a fictional city in a fantasy universe) and every November, a bunch of, in Terry’s words, bloody loonies descend upon Wincanton to celebrate Hogswatch. Clear as mud?!)
Though some of my friends go regularly, I’d not made it last year as it was my parents’ 40th anniversary. This year I was nervous but exc;ited – and hadn’t put a whole lot of planning into my costumes. I knew I was performing twice, and one of those involved chip packets.
So after a 3.30am alarm, staggering out of the house (watched by some very confused cats) at 4.20am and a 3 and a half hour drive, I arrived in Wincanton. Threw myself at my Travelodge room and slept and slept and slept.
At 10am, I found myself at the Memorial hall with Annastasia, surrounded by fellow loonies in outfits and costumes varying from mild to extreme, and I couldn’t stop grinning.
We taught a burlesque workshop to seven brave ladies and one extremely brave gent. Our chosen music, to match the theme of Going Postal, was… no, not Return to Sender, or any of the usual suspects. We went for Postman Pat.
Then I could wander to my heart’s content (and also packed in meeting Anna’s parents, the Boggises (who have long been heavily involved with Discworld and Hogswatch), long chats with new friends and some shopping, as well as a sneaky nap after lunch.
Come 5pm, I was in the green room, taking fuzzy but excited pictures of myself:
And then we got up on stage and danced. And oh, I had forgotten how much I enjoy performing. 2014 has been so busy and so manic (pfft, so much for my word of the year of “balance”) that I haven’t had much of a chance to dance at all, and it is still an unmatchable feeling to come off stage to appreciative applause (and sniggers, in this case).
Also got to sing the Twelve Days of Hogswatch (harder than you’d imagine, when you’re standing at the front holding up the words but you can’t actually read them yourself… it goes something like “On the FIRST day of Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, a mumble mumble blah blah blah. On the SECOND day of Christ-Hogswatch, my true love sent to me, TWO something mumble…” And that’s entirely sober!
Then the traditional sausage supper at the Bear, and on to the Pink Pussycat Club. Where we danced another number… dedicated to Rincewind the wizard, it involved a red pointy hat with stars on, three kimonos, doing some suggestive things with a potato masher and having a fight over some crisps. And the final reveal was…
(photo credit: Paul Heyes via FB)
(if you don’t get it, don’t worry… it’s a long story. If you want to get it, read Interesting Times.)
Here’s another pic of us during Postman Pat…
(photo credit: Tatyana Arbuzova via FB)
As cheesy as I know it sounds, the whole weekend felt like coming home. I didn’t feel like a newcomer (apart from when Nanny Ogg/Renta made me have a Hogswatch Virgin badge…), and as I’ve often found with my more niche hobbies (most notably model horsing – this felt a lot like that), there’s an instant sense of kinship. I even found some more stationery fiends (and friends) during our letter writing salon (an Ink Drops venture) on Sunday.
We were all letting our real selves out to play – our alter egos, but the ones we wish we could take back to everyday life with us. As so often recently, Lotta and I were perfectly in tune. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Having made so many new friends and felt so at home so quickly, coming back to the round world (not the Disc), and the prospect of the day job and doing housework were less than appealing.
I put this off by popping in on the way home to see my ex-headmaster and his family – which I know sounds weird, but my primary school was muchly special. Totally failed to get any photos of us all, but he did keep the sign when the school was demolished to make way for flats…
And it was so lovely to catch up after more than a decade.
So I drove home to my silly kittens through the night, arrived at 10pm, fell into bed to dream of the Disc, and woke up still half there today. I spent this morning waving photos at anyone who would look, and am now settling down to the important work of planning next year’s costumes and skits.
Big thanks to Annastasia for giving me the chance to attend – it’s now an immovable fixture in my calendar.
Happy Hogswatch… I hope you’ve been naughty AND nice!
PS for any non-Pratchett fans, normal service will resume shortly. If you’ve read him and don’t like it, fine. If you’ve never read him then for goodness’ sake go and borrow a book from your library and try one. You’ll never know if you don’t try…!
PPS You don’t actually have to be a fan to come to Hogswatch. I would love, love, love to see some of you there next year! Or at any of the various cons I hope to now attend in 2015 🙂
PPPS If you fancy creating your own alter ego, hop over and have a look at Unfurling Your Wings. It’ll launch a little later than planned due to some mad new VAT laws, but on the plus side, it’s now going to be a much more immersive experience, with goodies coming to you in the REAL ACTUAL POST.
Serendipity and excitement are the two main themes of my life at the moment.
There are so many lovely things going on, and so many possibilities and emotions and so much potential whizzing around in the air, that I am excited fit to burst, and finding it incredibly hard not to dance through the corridors of the day job with joy, on the very tips of my toes.
New friends have come into my life in the most unexpected of ways in the past few months . One through answering an ad for some cosmetics I was selling, with whom I’m now starting a craft club. Several through being sociable at work. A few of us are starting dance classes, sparked by going to the university’s dance show. Some through my ever-dependable online networks of escape artists and free rangers and lifestyle engineers.
I’ve been working with Amanda Aitken, in her new Girl’s Guide courses, and from just the first week I’ve had some lightbulb moments. I’m excited about these new ideas in a way I’ve not felt about business projects for a long time… possibly ever.
Two weeks and lots of experiments after I had my hair dyed blue, I’ve found the perfect electric blue colour for it (Directions Atlantic Blue, if you’re curious).
And new opportunities pop up at every corner – from tap dancing to faery festivals, there has been a spectacular explosion of things into my life, and I want to take advantage of every single one.
I’ve always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason… but lately I’ve also become a firm believer in the universe providing what you are open to. Like begets like, and all that – so if you expect goodness, abundance, new friendships, likeminded people and opportunities you could never have dreamed of before… then all those things will happen in the fullness of time. Pure magic in action.
I’ve been working on creating a magical, colourful life for some time. It’s been happening, but oh so slowly. Then in the past few months, it’s accelerated. And because I’ve been so focused on the life I want, feeling it start to really take shape truly feels like coming home.
There’s a way to go before I’m living my dream fully (with added unicorns!)- but now my baby steps feel less faltering, and more twirling and joyful and natural. And so I am off to run down the corridors, to spin in the sunshine and dance in the moonlight.
Quick post today, but wanted to share the photos of our tent at the Fling Festival a couple of weeks ago – it was the most glorious debut for my burlesque troupe. And who knew, when we took that first class eighteen months ago, what it would lead to?
Here we all are with our fab stage kitten Lou:
and the rest of the album is on the London Pin Up School’s Flickr.
The Fling always defies description, but to be there as a performer, helping to create the experience for other festivalgoers – it was a privilege, and one of the best days of my life.
Check us out – our troupe is Paper Dolls Burlesque, and we learned (and continue to learn) the art of burlesque with Jem Ayres at Burlesque Jems.
I feel very strongly that this is a new phase in my life. The opportunity to work so close to home is one that I think I only truly appreciate having battled almost two years of four-hours-a-day commuting. It signifies a change in pace, and a change in attitude. To make the jump to leaving London, there is a whole mindset change. Money becomes less important, and time, though still precious, is more plentiful.
There will be more time to spend with my family, the people and also the animals that are so dear to me, and who helped me so much through the darkest times of my life, and who share these happy ones so wholeheartedly.
Time to take Bluebell for long cycle rides, Poppy for long drives, to ride Jack and Chess (maybe not simultaneously) through the fields, to photograph and record the things I didn’t even have time to see before.
Long afternoons to spend with friends, chatting, talking, just being. Time to dream and plan for a nomadic future – narrowboats and caravans, visiting friends, a gentler pace of life.
While still running my businesses and creating my portfolio life, I also want to find time to learn – through the university, evening dance classes, finally getting going on my Universal Class courses, through Free Range Humans and Escape the City (just because I’ve escaped, doesn’t mean I can’t still spend time with fabulous like minded people)…
All these things I have missed for the past five years. All these things I am so much looking forward to – and all these things and more I will be thankful for. I’ll still be busy but I am absolutely determined to make more of everyday life now I have taken the leap. I don’t want to just live for the weekends – I want every day to be worth something.
I don’t regret my time in London, I’ve met some wonderful people (you really do find absolute gems in the most unexpected places) and I’ve learned a lot, much of it also unexpected. But the time is right to move on, and I am focused on the future. I don’t think I’ll ever return to work in the City – but I will take many memories of it with me.
I love dance in all its forms, and one of my favourite ways of spending money is to browse the many dance outfitters in Covent Garden, or flip through the pages of catalogues on the train. So I was delighted when Move Dancewear contacted me to ask if they could guest post on Ducking Fabulous. They have a gorgeous selection, in a decent range of sizes (for those of us not built like traditional ballerinas, this is important!) and I always get my burlesque essentials (dancers fishnets, practice shoes, etc) from them.
So without further ado, here is the post they wrote for me – I hope you enjoy 🙂
Finding dancewear for your favourite dance craze can be a challenge. It all depends on the dance type, and if you’re ahead of the craze; which often results in stock not being available yet.
However, folks at Move Dancewear cater for dancers and dance enthusiasts of many different styles. So, if you are a dancer, or are looking for a new hobby, here’s some dancewear to inspire you:
You can go for the classic black frill skirt or the traditional spotted frill skirt. It all depends on your mood. Don’t forget the great Flamenco accessories:
You can choose between red or black flamenco shoes, as both have 2 inch heels and Rivets on toe and heel.
Many people are put off by ballet as a hobby, as it’s often regarded as a very professional dance, but you can start any time. Move Dancewear offer start kits for children and adults, which include a leotard, ballet shoes and tights. So, you can give it a go, and see if you like it, before moving on to adding some ballet accessories to your gear:
Tutus and tutu skirts can easily be added to your leotard, and will be essential for when you go forth into the performing world. Even if it’s just a small performance in your local community to raise money for charity, it’s still good to look the part.
The first perception of Jazz may be that you’ll have less choice regarding dancewear, but this is by no means the case. There are many different styles of Jazz suits:
You can also opt to just going for the jazz trousers and shoes:
With Jazz, it is very important to have the right footwear, as Jazz shoes give the flexibility to move swiftly, elegantly and precisely.
You can also find books, DVDs and CDs all about dance. For more information on dancewear, as well as ballet and character shoes, visit the Move Dancewear website.
And remember that when it comes to dance, the possibilities are endless.
Disclaimer: I am not paid or otherwise compensated for guest posts. I only accept those which I feel fit my interests and therefore those of this blog. The content of guest posts does not necessarily reflect my own views or opinions. All images provided by guest blogger.
Sometimes, when you’re having a crappy
day week and thanking your lucky stars that you can cry without looking like you’ve been crying (weird talent, but necessary so I can still appear professional), you spot a tweet that makes you go “oh!”.
This is today’s ‘oh’ moment.
It is not technique or champion status that makes a dancer great. It is the energy of the mind and the sheer joy of dancing expressed.
Full blog here. It’s a good reminder why although I’ll probably never dance competitively again, there is no reason at all why I can’t continue to dance my whole life. For me.
Tonight, I shall meet my deadline, go home, do essential housework, and sleep. Tomorrow… tomorrow I will dance.
Rediscovering my pointe shoes…
Makeup trial for the wedding (done by me) – this is look one, neutral eyes with sheer-ish red lips. Shocking phone photo and my glasses obscure my eyelids, I know. More of these to come before the actual wedding. Skin’s looking clearer though – Nars illuminator is magical stuff!
Challenging myself to sew something for the Popular Crafts Union Jack swap… here’s my finished needle book 🙂 Will be posted with a treat and a cross stitched card!
Munching the cake I bought for a friend’s BBQ that was abandoned due to rain. I suspect the diet will be back on when I’m back at work, I’m maintaining weight but there’s so much yummy food involved in this week… lol! These cakes, stocked in our local Wyevale (Colchester Stanway and Braintree) are my favourite fallbacks if I don’t have time to bake, they taste homemade!
Sorting bookshelves and installing a ballet barre *cough perfect height clothes rail cough* in my living room – if I’m going to be ready for this burlesque cabaret in October, I need to strengthen my long-neglected dance muscles and improve my flexibility. Removing my glove with my foot is, as expected, somewhat trickier than it looks on stage! My intention is to try to do 10-15 mins of stretches and barre work each day even if I manage no other exercise. Combined with burlesque each week and hopefully cycling when my bike eventually arrives, plus skating which I do whenever I can but usually once a week, I should be trimmer, fitter and more flexible in no time. Yeah. I live in hope. But I’ll at least enjoy myself in the process!
Also managed to paint my toenails (my feet are not fit for photographing so here are the colours I used) and ogling the Pashley Poppy on the front of this month’s Homes and Antiques. Cannot WAIT for mine (it’s the blue, rather than the pink, version) to arrive – hopefully in a little over a month. Squee!
Footnote: I’m aware that wearing pointe shoes while not a trained dancer can damage your feet; I’m also aware mine should have ribbons attached for support. They’re mostly decorative and I intend to wear them for a photoshoot. I doubt I will ever again dance that level of ballet!
Ohh, how I love Instagram. Hoping for lots more week-in-photos kind of posts 🙂
Top to bottom, L-R: a wooden mouse I keep on my desk; the Move Dancewear catalogue making me daydream; a splash of colourful tulips outside St Paul’s Cathedral; me in my skates and new sparkly legwarmers; Dad waving me off from the balcony of their new flat; sugar free Polos – keeping me sane during the diet!