Song in my Heart: England - Broadstairs, Tuesday 2018 August 14

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August 14th 2018
Published: December 3rd 2019
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Broadstairs beach in Viking Bay Broadstairs beach in Viking Bay Broadstairs beach in Viking Bay

The Vikings really did land here.
What an unexpected day in the village! Rather than spending a quiet day at Rosemary’s home, she sent me off to wander through Folk Week, celebrated annually. As I reached the sea front, I became one of thousands walking, eating and watching. At first, I simply enjoyed the sea view at Viking Bay, complete with sun bathers and swimmers. At a certain moment, I realized Morris dancers were about to begin a performance and found a good position for watching and videoing. Of course, many others kept walking across my shot, but life was mellow. The dancers’ enthusiastic amateur skill reminded me of our Jane Austen dancing group, Sprigged Muslin.

About three dances sufficed, and I wandered some more. Coffee and cake were calling me as a treat; Marciano’s was a large ice cream parlour with excellent chocolate cake and espresso, plus a chicken and pesto ciabatta for lunch later. Moving on, I saw a great crowd and discovered that it was at the band stand. Members of a children’s entertainment group, Hobby Horse Club, were encouraging kids to dance with bizarre horse puppets (actors with wooden heads draped in black cloth). Hooden horses are an old tradition in eastern Kent. Everyone was having
Leading Lights Morris of DovercourtLeading Lights Morris of DovercourtLeading Lights Morris of Dovercourt

Promoting traditions in east Kent
a splendid time jumping and shaking in the sun shine. Watch video.

At the end of the performance, I saw some park benches near a gazebo and ate my sandwich, gazing at the view of the sea and all the Victorian buildings on the sea front. Dickens wrote David Copperfield in one of them, a claim to tourism fame for Broadstairs. Back near the band stand was a large craft fair, selling mainly accessories and some artistic items for the house. A bracelet with a cowry shell called to me; then I found a crocheted sun hat even better than the one I already have. My first thought of making one for myself was quickly overcome by the reasonable price of eight pounds.

Without any rush I made my way to the Queen’s Street Baptist Church where a workshop was to be held at 2:00. Rosemary didn’t show up, a loose arrangement, so I bought a ticket for the fusion music experience and went into a large room in the church hall. Only a few people were there, with the instructor, Alphonse Daudet Touna. He started us off on the steel drums – definitely a first for me! The
Bleak House 1801 Bleak House 1801 Bleak House 1801

Where Dickens wrote his novel
dimples on the pans had their notes on them, to make his teaching easier for us. Within half an hour, five of us were playing a recognizable version of Jamaica Farewell (“I left a little girl in Kingston Town”). That’s when he said he wanted us to play with him at the band stand at 6:30; I wasn’t that dedicated and told him I couldn’t - just wanted a bit of fun. By this time more people had joined the workshop, and I gave up my place to someone who could come again. Listening to him teach the next piece was fun. A couple of families each, with a couple of kids, came in. He asked with great seriousness if the children wanted to learn, to ensure it was worth the effort for him to fetch four child-sized steel pan sets from his vehicle. One of the dads set up the sets while adult tuition continued. The children were very frustrated that they could not play while the adults were learning, but when their turn came, they really enjoyed themselves. The smallest child, about seven I think, was the best, learning the rhythm and notes very quickly. He praised her
Steel pan for beginnersSteel pan for beginnersSteel pan for beginners

Much easier with notes noted
for her good attention skills, and later her mother told me she was naturally musical.

For the next adult round of lessons and practice, he gave me maracas to add to the rhythm “section” – otherwise, only a woman who knew how to play large bongo drums. Unfortunately, I was behind the beat too much, and he substituted a single rattle held by the bowl, which helped somewhat. Later the woman showed me how to play the drum and said that the maracas were difficult to play because the handle moved before the bowl made a sound. Still she had to give me help with the drum to keep the rhythm as we all learned Bob Marley’s Everything is Going to be Alright. More than two hours of music had my brain tired and spinning. Time for tea and chocolate brownie – a decadent day!

As I walked along the Promenade, I noticed a lot of people on the pier. I had never walked there, so I went down and discovered more craft and clothing booths. At the end was a big fish and chips restaurant. The light was beguiling in the evening’s golden shades. A family was fishing with hand nets, and
Broadstairs promenade and beach Broadstairs promenade and beach Broadstairs promenade and beach

Very popular local destination
by the excitement of the children’s voices, they were successful.

My walk back may have worked off the brownie because I took the wrong road at one point. Once I realized that I recognized none of the houses, I turned back and asked a couple if I were on the wrong road. They explained how to go to the right road. At one point I asked an elderly woman to confirm my direction; oddly, she asked if I were visiting her daughter, who had an Italian guest. At least, I was on the right road.

View map of trip to date.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


Centre of BroadstairsCentre of Broadstairs
Centre of Broadstairs

George Inn ~1850
 Viking Bay  Viking Bay
Viking Bay

Vacation beach in Broadstairs
Broadstairs promenade Broadstairs promenade
Broadstairs promenade

Long walk above the beach and below the town
Morris dancers Morris dancers
Morris dancers

First sight for me
Morris dancer Morris dancer
Morris dancer

Expression of joy
Folk Week crowds Folk Week crowds
Folk Week crowds

Holiday visitors from across Europe
Hooden Horses Hooden Horses
Hooden Horses

Traditional large puppets entertaining children and the rest of us
Queen's Road Baptist ChurchQueen's Road Baptist Church
Queen's Road Baptist Church

Location of steel pan tutorial
Steel pan workshop Steel pan workshop
Steel pan workshop

Beginner lessons during Folk Week

3rd December 2019

Kent looks good!
I've never been there or even thought of going, but it looks lovely and fun. And what fun to be taken for an Italian tourist! I knew nothing about steel pan drums - I hadn't realized they played different notes (or, as the Wiki article puts it, "a chromatically pitched percussion instrument". Interesting.
7th December 2019

Kent is a large county with a deep, complex history, since it is so close to Europe. Take several days to visit.
4th December 2019
Leading Lights Morris of Dovercourt

What a pleasure this must have been to watch. I love local activities like this.

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