Wednesday May 25: Lots of packing and running errands. Our flight was at 7pm. My mother is not upset at our not taking BA, she considers a direct Boston to Manchester flight to be a decent excuse for going with AA.
Thursday May 26: Arrive at Manchester airpot. We wander around attempting to walk to our hotel, get a little lost, and just as we are figuring it out our thwarted by the very zealous coutesy bus. We drop off bags at the hotel and rent a car. I drive us to Leeds. I can still drive in the UK without getting tempted to do anything that will cause a head on collision, but I have developed the leftward lane drift thing, especially when tired. UK road signage and average driving ability is still way superior to what you see in the US. We get to the Armory shortly before noon. Its now free, but we leave a nice donation anyway because its such a cool place. I resist buying swords or armor, but only because the exchange rate is currently really bad for my wallet. We see a few demonstrations. The Falconry one is still good, but different birds this time. One of the Harris Hawks grazes my hat while flying over me during the demonstration. Cool. Tudor Horsmanship turns out to be a sort of jousting light. They do the jousting type excercises, but with no actual charging at each other since they're not wearing armor. Also, the guys in armor last time were way better at the quintain and running at the rings, etc. After the armory we're dead tired. I drive most of the way back and we turn the car in, have dinner at the hotel and go to bed just in time to get onto a decent UK sleep schedule, which was the purpose of going a day early.
Friday May 27th: Take the train to Blackpool, unpack in out flat, buy groceries, pick up out tickets, buy a program and run other related errands. Then we some of the Over 35 Standard. I'll be old enough that we can dance in that next year. John and Karen from DC are were dancing in it, but they didn't make the first cut.
Saturday May 28th: Get up early and do hair, grab a quick warmup at the cometitors practice, and then do makup and go dance in the Rising Star Amatuer. The waltz felt good, but the other dances weren't really on. Oh well. Go back and take the scary makeup off. Go shopping for practice skirts. I only got two this time, due to the exchange rate issue. Went to the evening session to watch the team match. The team intros are a big thing. Japan had a good one with dancing brooms. The US and England both used the new "strictly come dancing" TV show as they theme. Unusually the US pulled this one off way better than England. Serves the English team right for having John Wood as their captain. As usual the Italians have no sense of humor. The team match is really close this year. England beat the US by a tenth of a point to win it. Alan and Donna Shingler annouce their retirement after the team match. Darn. They're such nice people and I really like them, but I can understand. They're not likely to make it to number one in the world before Donna is too old to have a kid. Eit.
Sunday May 29th: In spite of the vast cost (45 pounds each) we decide to go to the lectures. We just went to the afternoon session. Obviously we're primarily interested in the Standard lectures. Luca and Lorraine give a great lecture, even if Luca's style of dancing isn't our favorite. Luca has a sense of humor and can laugh at himself. The Italians need to make him their team captain next year; he could come up with a good team intro. Timmy and Joanne give a great lecture too, and of course their dancing is our preferred style of standard, so it was really good for us. Bill Irvine gave the last lecture of the day. No point in trying to sum that one up. Bill to the guy in charge: "How much time do I have?" Guy in charge: "No one is going to stop you Bill."
Monday May 30th: We try to practice at the Imperial. Not terribly helpful as its a small floor and there are too many latin couples there. We catch some of the competition that night, but its not especially inspiring stuff to jaded folks like us.
Tuesday May 31th: Again we try to practice at the Imperial. The situation with the latin couples is even worse, and now its the day before the competition. Things go poorly, probably predictably, but its the day before we dance, so we're stupid about predicting it. We watch a bit of the Amatuer Latin that night. We run into Pete and Amy. (Pete has apparently forgotten who I am, which I find a trifle amusing. Standard guys never pay attention to the lady.) It turns out they were over-zealous and have an extra set of tickets with seats. We purchase the extra set from them, since they're good seats, seats of any sort are hard to come by at Blackpool, and standing during the good stuff is a pain. Seats or not seats though, we turn in good and early.
Wednesday June 1st: We do the whole get up early and do competition prep thing. This time we elect to change at the ballroom since the schedule is tighter. There are only 9 heats this year! I think there were 16 my first year (1998). The dancing feels OK. After dancing we have adventures in laundry. That evening we end up watching most of the Pro Latin. It runs until 1:30am. We don't bother staying for the results since Brian and Carmen are clearly still much better than any other couple, though Slavvik and Karina are clearly improving.
Thursday June 2nd: We watch the second qualifier from the Amateur. We didn't make it back, but that was no surprise. The trend continues that the competition gets smaller everly year, but its mostly the people at the bottom who are missing. Sigh. Next year we'll be missing too, and I'll be old enough to do the senior, and they won't let you do anything else if you do the senior. At this point that's fine by me, even if I think its a mistake on their part. The day is pretty much taken up with watching the rest of the Amateur. Same italian couple as last year won. Sigh. I was routing for the Boyces.
Friday June 3rd: The final day of the dance festival. I opt not to go to Chrisanne farewell party; I don't want to deal with the pushing crowd after the free stuff. I've hardly been by the vendors at all this year. There's that exchange rate issue, plus looking at ballgowns isn't as interesting as it used to be. I like my current gown a lot more than the ones on display there. The Pro starts early in the afternoon. We skip round 2 to have dinner, but we watch everything else. Peter Maxwell comments a number of times that he thinks its a record that 7 of the judges have contested the final of that event. Not! I think my first year at least seven of the judges on the evening panel had won the event, never mind contesting the final. I'd better not get into Peter Maxwell's deficiencies as MC and chairman of judges, or I'd go on too long. I'll just say that Blackpool isn't what it used to be and I think he's the main culprit. Anyway, Timmy and Joanne won, but it was closer than I think it should have been. I think Jonathan and Katusha should have placed better than they did. Pino won the quickstep, and I just don't think the judges were watching the same quickstep I was. He looked terrible in the final of the quickstep when I was watching, he and his partner just weren't together. Chris managed to make the final with his new partner. He still looked great, but she has some work to do, especially on her footwork.
Saturday June 4th: Slept in very late after the late night on Friday, then packed up the flat and took the train back to Manchester.
Sunday June 5th: Got up very early to make out 10am flight home. Ran into John Kimmins twice in the airport. :) I really like John Kimmins, he's such a nice guy. Got home around 1pm Boston time. Played some Warcraft in the interest of staying up and readjusting my body clock. :)