Markets, Merry Men, and Mountains of Sweets
We began Sunderland with a master class for the amazing kids at Cleadon Village School. We put together a special progamme for them in which we talked about, and taught, how to Irish dance and play Irish music. The kids absolutely loved the experience…and so did we!
We ended our run in Sunderland on Saturday night, with dancer Aoife Kennedy’s family cheering her on from the audience. Most of the cast, along with Aoife’s family, took a group trip to Newcastle for a few celebratory drinks. We were guided through the city by former Riverdancer’s Craig Mason and Shane Cummings; both danced in our Saturday shows for their friends, family and dance school pupils.
On Sunday, Dance Captain Andy O’Rielly and leads Bobby Hodges and Ciara Sexton flew to China to do a promotional gig, and meet up with the Moy Co. Knowing our friends in the Moy Co. will be in China over Christmas, we filled Andy’s bags with enough chocolate and sweets to get them through the holiday season. Hopefully it’ll be a small comfort for them during this time.
Christmas was definitely in the air when we hit Nottingham. Every day on our way to work we passed through our first Christmas markets of the season. They were filled with toys, trinkets, a massive Christmas tree and tasty treats. We all stuffed ourselves with the latter between our weekend matinees; a little sugar kick to help us through the evening shows!
Dancer Siobhan McSharry also celebrated a birthday in Nottingham. Some of the cast surprised her with high tea at the Colwick Hotel, a nice spot two miles from Nottingham city centre. We munched on scones, cakes and of course…champagne (and tea too).
Besides high tea, my favorite Nottingham outing was a trip to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest inn in England. The first landlord records start in 1760, but the inn is thought to have existed since Nottingham Castle was constructed in 1068 AD, as it’s built into its walls. Nottingham Castle is where the Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin Hood’s arch nemeses, lived. This is probably where Robin Hood had pints with his merry men, as they thought of their next plan to steal from the rich to give to the poor!
Nottingham was made even more special by the generosity of Peter, of Fine Shoes by Peter Bullock. After chatting with fiddler David Lombardi, Peter invited fellow leads Jason O’Neill, Stephen Brennan and myself to his shop to pick out a pair of English made brogues. A huge thanks goes out to Peter and his staff for taking such good care of us when fitting us out with an amazing new pair of shoes; thank you!
We’re now in Oxford, which so far looks beautiful. Check back next weeks for updates on our studies of this city!