Ceroc, Dancing, Norfolk Beach, Writer's Blog

Swish 2019

I love February! Have always loved February- it being my birthday month, and this year my half century birthday, too. But Feburary is and has been, in the recent past, made even more special because February is when we go to Swish!

Swish, of all the dance weekenders on offer, is on our doorstep, a few miles down the road on the east coast of Norfolk. And Swish is something special indeed.

Held at Potters in Hopton, a five-star holiday resort, we are nothing if not a little spoiled at this Ceroc weekender. Needless to say, the workshops and freestyles spread over the three days, are second to none, but the accommodation and food are top notch too, making it, as advertised, a dance weekender like no other.

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This year is extra special for me, for on the Monday I will be celebrating my 50th birthday and this weekend is the most exquisite foreplay to the start of my celebrations.

We arrived, early of course, at Potters late morning and met up with Matty, Anna, Julie, Anne and Dennis before heading off for the first of many scrumptious lunches. With laughter and conversation aplenty it was already gearing up to be a good one. After lunch, we headed back to the main room to chill while waiting for our rooms to become available. At this stage, we may have over-excitedly bought a fishbowl of Strawberry Daquiri for Anna, Julie and myself to share. Delicious and alcoholic enough to calm the butterflies already circling my stomach. Even though I have attended this event a number of times before, I always get an attack of nervous anxiety before it starts, unnecessary as it is, but it is short-lived.

Our accommodation had been upgraded since our last visit and the room was cozy and the bed comfortable – although the plan being to spend as little time as possible in it. A very short walk from the main venue, the room sported coffee making facilities and all we needed for what is merely a base for a few hours between the dancing. We settled in, had a quick shower and, passing the Aphrodite Spa, popped in to book Clive a back massage and me a manicure for the Saturday morning. I already knew Clive had bought me a new ring for my birthday so nice nails would complement it perfectly when we got home.

Regrouping with friends, and with the addition of Carol and Robert, Sylvia and Rob, Steve and Bridget, Ian and Pauline, Ivan and Nicky, this was set to be a fabulous few days.

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Dinner was foremost on our minds once the unpacking and refreshing for the evening ahead was complete and we headed off to the dining rooms to select from a range of scrumptious courses, certain to refuel us for the evening ahead, with accompanying wine with which to wash it all down.

Meals at Swish (indeed meals at Potters if you fancy a break on the Norfolk coast) are incredibly tasty and in keeping with the five star rating, and I am always grateful that we spend most of the weekend dancing off the tempting excesses. For the overly energetic among us, those for whom days packed with dance workshops and nights packed with freestyle is just not enough, the resort offers a swimming pool wih jacuzzi and steam rooms and a gym, all complimentary for those staying at the resort as well as numerous activities such as, but not exclusive to, karting, segways and yoga.

The evening entertainment was provided, as always, by the Potters Theatre Company and on our first night we were dealt the delights of music through the decades taking us on a journey from the 60s through to the 90s. Songs from singers who didn’t miss a note and dancers who didn’t miss a step ensured our evening started off on a high.

The freestyle dancing began at ten o clock. We didn’t make it through to the end of the dancing at gone four in the morning on the first night, preferring to pace our weekend. However, we danced our suede bottoms off in the main room until two o’ clock and shared immense fun and laughter at the silent disco, something we had never tried before. Our sides ached afterwards, having enjoyed cheesy party tracks such as Macarena, YMCA and even the Birdie Song – don’t judge me!

Saturday morning, despite not crawling into bed until three, having showered the evening’s perspiration away, we met friends for breakfast then headed off to the Aphrodite Spa where Clive had his massage (apparently one of the best he has ever had) and I changed my booking to a double express manicure and pedicure. Once relaxed and pampered Clive headed off to join some of the others while I joined Julie and Sylvia for the ladies styling class with the energetic Becki. Having taken this class elsewhere before, I found the format to be refreshingly fun and relaxed and we looked forward to practising our grocery moves.

After another hearty lunch it was time to burn off more calories with Phil and Alex’s Celebration class, aptly named for the celebratory feeling Phil feels when certain moves just go ‘right’. It was a fun class packed with a number of moves which flowed so seamlessly, once practised, that Clive slotted them into freestyle with ease.

Dinner was, as always, filling and far too tempting for someone like me who has difficulty resisting such delights, promising myself the healthy eating will resume when birthday celebrations finish.

Freestyle did not disappoint. It being Saturday, and following a Bucks Fizz reception in the Atlas Theatre, many dancers had made an effort to dress up a little more formally than for a standard freestyle. From Ceroc Classics delivered by Joe, Paul and Tony in the main room, to another fun silent disco, the evening flew past. Tim’s new addition to the Saturday entertainment, the Party Hour at one pm kept a busy dance floor, with classic party tunes such from past chart toppers such as The Communards and Gina G to fun tunes such as Cotton Eye Joe providing an up-tempo, sweat inducing, foot-agonising foray of partner swapping, tagging and endless laughter from our closer friends. We staggered from the hall at two pm, our minds keen to stay longer, our feet and bodies calling for a much needed rest.

Sunday was another resounding success. The meals, now too fabulous to mention by name, were as scrumptious as the previous day, with as much variety on offer.

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Our first class of the day, after a morning of lazily resting our feet, was a Stops and Blocks class, taught by the highly entertaining Brett. A great class with some impressive new moves, after which we headed off to our friends’ room in the hotel, accompanied by a small gathering of close dance friends, to enjoy fizz and birthday cake as a prelude to my, and Anna’s, birthdays the next day. It being my 50th, my hubby had arranged for a dancing-themed cake and we enjoyed some downtime with our fabulous Ceroc Fusion friends, before heading back to the dancefloor to join in a Double Trouble class.

Glen Brooks provided much fun and many giggles as he and his two demos walked us through some challenging new moves. The class was the last of the weekend and rounded off hours of workshops with tired smiles.

The theme for the evening’s freestyle was white with neon and if it glowed, you’d made the right choice. Neon facepaints were provided and, after the theatre entertainment was over, the floor was soon packed with blinding fluorescence. Top tunes ensured the dancing didn’t miss a beat and it was disappointing when the evening came to an end and the music finally stopped, concluding Swish 2019.

Heading back to the chalet to shower and pack as much of our luggage as possible, we fell with a positive exhaustion into our bed, just four hours before the alarm was due to rouse us.

Swish 2019 has been the best Swish we have attended so far, the team adding to the ingredients just a little more year on year. Just when you think they can’t improve upon a perfect weekend they seem to come up trumps, making it just a little more so.

The Ceroc team, consisting of Paul, Glen, Karen, Tim, Mike and the rest of the fabulous dance teachers and DJs work so hard to provide this weekender for us all, but on the face of it they smile endlessly, showing no sign of the utter physical and mental exhaustion they must feel at some points.

I can’t let this pass without mentioning the fact that I managed a dance with both Tim (Head of Dance) and his husband, Michael, on the same night (extreme awesomeness, as always) but never quite managed to pin Mike (Head Honcho of Ceroc) down for a dance. Guess I will have to wait patiently until next year…I do love a challenge!

 

 

 

 

 

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Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Ceroc Fusion’s newest venue in Acle

One thing you can never guarantee is the weather and last night was no exception. Cold, verging on, but not quite, freezing, misty at the start and, irrelevantly, dense fog by the end of the evening. But Ceroc Fusion’s keen dancers are a hardy bunch, not to be deterred by a drop in temperature or dampness in the air.

The evening commenced for us with the Sat Nav which we programmed on a ‘just in case’ basis, but it wasn’t needed. The new venue, Acle War Memorial Recreation Centre to give it its full name, was no effort to find with a spacious car park onsite.

We arrived early enough to help Anna, Robert and Carol set out chairs and lighting and were greeted with a slightly flustered, but smiling,  Anna who, naturally, wanted everything to be faultless. The hall itself is perfect for the purpose, spacious and with a good-sized stage for the teacher and DJ. The floor itself, a sports hall style with badminton court markings, was very comfortable to dance and spin on. While obviously not a sprung floor, there was no pressure on the knees and it can be compared to the floor at the John Innes Centre for those who have danced there on a Wednesday night.

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The hall at its most basic – before we added chairs and lighting, a DJ and a class.

As you arrive, the toilets are on the right and to the left is an indoor bowls green. Following the corridor around there is a members-only bar on the left hand side, where dancers are able to purchase drinks and snacks throughout the evening. Opposite to the bar door, on the right, is the door to the dance hall. The overall feel of the venue was amiable and welcoming.

By the time we arrived, the others had set a number of chairs and a few tables around the edges of the hall. We focused on lighting, flags and banners, while Robert set up the stage with his DJ equipment in readiness for the lesson.

With the weather being so cold, a huge turnout wasn’t expected but eager dancers started to filter through the doors at a little after seven, with the hall quickly filling up as the minutes ticked by. When the beginner lesson started, there were well over 60 dancers lined up on the floor, including a number of nervous beginners who had signed up for their first night.

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A selection of dancers practise a move during the beginner session.

The beginners lesson with Gemma ran as smoothly as ever with three packed rows and, by the time it was complete, the hall was filled with more than 90 keen dancers. The floor was busy and everyone seemed to be enjoying the variety of classic and new tunes offered by the DJ, Robert.

It was apparent that we had underestimated the number of dancers who would turn out, and we deposited a lot more chairs after the beginner lesson, simply to allow everyone a spot to rest their legs between dances.

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Dennis, Ceroc Fusion’s photographer, took lots of photos of the opening night, which will appear on the Ceroc Fusion Facebook page.

Despite the room being so full, the high ceiling kept it cool enough to enjoy dancing without the need for fans at this stage, although some are likely to be needed when the warmer weather returns – it WILL come back I am sure. With this venue, there is also the option of opening up the side door (hidden in the above picture by the curtain on the right hand side of the hall) which will provide some air flow when needed. Last night, with the frost and fog swirling outside, was definitely not the time to test it out.

Friends, old and new, joined the intermediate lesson while Julie and Carol took the beginners out to enhance their learning from the beginner lesson. Good feedback was received from the new dancers and, when their session ended, they joined the main hall and freestyle dancing continued until 10.30, when it was time to say goodbye to this, our first night at Acle WMRC.

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After each move is taught, dancers move along to learn with a new partner.

As I mentioned at the start, the weather is always as diverse as the dancers who attend a Ceroc night. Our journey home from this great evening was cloaked in thick, almost freezing, fog but it had no impact on our evening.

Feedback from fellow dancers was positive, the beginners all keen to return – signing up for the offer of six lessons for the price of three before leaving. Sad that it was to have lost the venue at Great Yarmouth on a Friday,  Anna has done well to secure such a lovely, accessible venue on a Thursday night. Most definitely a great new addition to Ceroc Fusion.

For further information about Ceroc Fusion, my personal blog about some of our local freestyles or Ceroc in general click on these links to find out more.

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Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Annual New Year’s Eve Freestyle and Party.

Okay, so I am going to go all in and state that last night’s New Year’s Eve party might just have been the best I have ever been to.

We had decided upon and booked our tickets to the annual Ceroc Fusion New Year’s Eve freestyle and post-midnight party. We intended to say goodbye to 2018 with good friends and lots of fun.

Having offered to help with preparations, we arrived at Wymondham Central Hall just after five o’clock, joined by Julie, Anna and Steve, and proceeded to set out chairs, tables, cloths, candles and lights, while Steve the DJ and Richard, who was in charge of tech for the evening, prepared the stage, lighting and projector for the midnight countdown.

Bags, boxes and trays of food prepared by Anna with the assistance of Steve, were moved into the cool kitchen where they were stored safely and plans for the running order were discussed. With everyone playing a part, a well-organised and fun-filled night was ready to begin, just in time for the first guests, who started to arrive, keenly, before the start.

The hall was soon filled with smartly-dressed dancers of all ages, numbers soon into three figures. I wasn’t able to dance very much on this occasion due to a very minor, but equally painful, achilles injury. I had begun a new regime of activity which is commonly known as ‘exercise’ and it appeared to disagree with me. I will probably try it again in the new year, with the usual pounds to be shed after seasonal indulgence, but I will approach with much caution. After all, I don’t want any injury to affect my enjoyment of Ceroc, do I?

With the hall packed with enthusiastic dancers, it was time for Steve and Hannah to teach their ice-breaker class so, with everyone called to order, the short class began.

Less than half an hour later, the popular warm up class was over and, as if by magic, we had filled three large tables with savoury indulgences. The tables positively groaned, there was so much food – much credit at this point has to go to Anna and Steve who had been making sandwiches, chopping raw vegetables into sticks and cooking party foods almost all day.

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The trays of food were replenished as queues of dancers snacked, eventually the savoury being replaced with refreshing trays of melon, naughty chocolate biscuits, mince pies, bakewells and flapjacks. There was something for everybody.

The evening passed seamlessly, broken up with a ‘Dance with a Stranger’ competition where at various stages throughout the track, everybody changes partner and two lucky dancers who are dancing with the two secret ‘strangers’ at the end are rewarded with a bottle of wine each.

With minutes to go until midnight struck, the stage was prepared, the projector hooked to the laptop and the countdown to the New Year fireworks, London style, began. Everybody had been given party poppers with a couple of larger party canons per table too. As midnight struck, our poppers exploded in time with the first of the fireworks on screen. The hall was filled with the remnants of party popper streamers and cases as we all linked arms to join in the traditional rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

After the midnight kisses, cuddles and well-wishes were done, Steve played party tunes for the next hour. Old and cheesy favourites such as the Cha Cha Slide, Timewarp, YMCA and Superman were interspersed with a Conga and other party favourites.  The Ceroc-ers were all too keen to join in the after party having had their four hours of Ceroc dancing leading up to midnight. The atmosphere was truly electric. Sylvia and Russell, professional party hosts, led the moves to dances such as The Macarena and Oops Up-side Your Head and it was heart-warming to see so many dancers in a party light.

Ceroc Fusion dancers really do know how to have a good time be it dancing with a partner or taking part in other aspects of a fun party. I feel honoured to know such a fabulous bunch of people.

Happy New Year, 2019, Ceroc Fusion and all your members.

Center Parcs, Ceroc, Daily Life, Dancing, Kite flying, Moving house, Writer's Blog

Finding the positives from 2018

I am no different to everybody else. My family have their fair share of ups and downs, sadness and tragedies but nobody wants to hear about all of that nonsense. The glum stuff is for keeping hidden behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. I don’t want to depress my readers, especially this close to Christmas.

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I wanted to share some of the awesome times from the past year. There have been some real highlights and some great times so read on for a bit of a positive vibe.

The end of the staffing struggle

After a period of ups and downs, advertising, searching and interviews, we finally secured two excellent IT Technicians, and not a moment too soon. I had spent the previous months trying hard to manage the IT department as well as do the job of one or two technicians so I was very grateful to secure an amazing team. Life is certainly much calmer at work nowadays.

Settling times

My son, Daniel, secured himself a job at a local private hospital, after a period of insecurity as the cafe he was managing was going through changes and, subsequently, closure. He loves his work and is now much more settled. His issues following his brain surgeries over the past years seem to have settled and the side effects are now bearable, even if they have not subsided. He has rid himself of a troublesome and unreliable flatmate, turning his spare room into a games room – what else?

More settling times

My daughter and her husband were able to finalise the purchase of their first home. A beautiful four-bedroomed detached house on a new development outside of Norwich. They had rented since they first got together and are so pleased to have overcome a far-higher-than-normal number of snagging issues. I don’t think they will buy from Charles Church/Persimmon anytime in the future but they now have a fabulous home. They also secured great new jobs this year so all is well in the Woods world.

New addition

At the start of September, we welcomed the newest addition to our family – a gorgeous granddaughter, called Harper. Her parents are my husband’s oldest son and his lovely fiancee. Harper is now just over three months old and she is an adorable delight. I have genuinely never encountered such a contented baby. This has given us a great excuse to travel a couple of hours down the road to visit them and their little family as often as we can. We have also made new friends, Harper’s maternal grandparents, Pauline and Guy. You can never have too many new friends and we look forward to getting to know them better each time we visit.

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Speaking of new friends

When I mention new friends, it seems wrong not to mention old friends. We have so many friends and acquaintances through our hobby, dancing. We have far too many friends to mention but it’s worth mentioning that we almost lost touch completely with a few of our friends, because we became wrapped up in a couple of quietly-controlling dancing friends who monopolised our weekends and, through the medium of sneaky comments and suggestions, we almost, but not quite, completely lost touch with some very good friends who we had known and become close to, through dancing for years. Luckily, we were given a lifeline when those friends suddenly and unexpectedly became jealous of our visiting alternative dance venues and enjoying any dancing time without them. It’s funny how the penny suddenly drops and you feel freer than you have done for months. We realised we had become too reliant on these two, quite frankly, dull friends. The upshot is that we now have more dancing friends than ever and have rekindled an almost-lost friendship. We are both eternally grateful for all of our dear friends.

Not losing Mum

This time last year, Mum was not looking like she would be able to crawl her way to Christmas but, with some lifestyle changes, plenty of drugs and intervention from doctors, she is still with us all. Mum may not be in the best of health – far from it – but we are lucky to have had her with us for another year.

Workmates 

Turnover of staff has meant a number of new additions to the school over the past months and I am lucky to be blessed with some lovely people in my working life.  I am not generally one for socialising with colleagues but with such a lovely bunch it is difficult not to keep in touch.

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Blogging and writing pages

I have almost completed my Comprehensive Creative Writing course which I am taking with the Writers Bureau and, as part of this course, it was suggested that I set up a blog and start sharing my unpublished works on my site and social media pages. This has been a successful starting year to my writing. I have had a handful of short stories published, a couple of poems and have started to build a portfolio which I am secretly quite impressed with. I have the starting chapters of four novels rattling around in my laptop but have not yet decided which one will take my full attention in 2019. Watch this space for more!

New gnashers

I am not going to go on and on about my new teeth but I am seriously pleased with them. From my baby teeth, I have always had a large gap in the front which I hated from High School when I was bullied about them. I was lucky enough to be introduced to a dentist who, over the past few months, has created me some new teeth with no gap at all. Everything feels nice and secure and they look better than they ever have done. That’s all I am going to say but its a huge positive!

A REAL summer

There was a lot of grumbling, and yes I do realise just how hot it was, but summer 2018 was awesomely warm. a few short weeks after heavy snowfall, we were beset with a glorious heatwave which lasted for most of the summer months. It was such a lovely season, I personally could not have asked for more beautiful summer weather. My husband and I were able to visit the beach and parks which gave him plenty of time to fly his kites (you can read all about this in some of my other posts) and me to do some writing.

Nieces and nephew

We are lucky enough to have three nieces and a nephew on my brother’s side. Somewhat ideally, they are aged 11, 9, 7 and 5 and they are a fabulous bunch. As with all of our family, we don’t see enough of them but have been  blessed to spend more time with them this year than ever before. We plan to do more next year so they will soon be bored with us!

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Winter Wonderland

We decided to pay for a holiday to Center Parcs, just a few miles down the road from us in Elveden, while the Winter Wonderland was in full swing. The whole resort is lit up for Christmas with sparkling white lights adorning the woodland pathways, and numerous seasonal events taking place around the site. Its truly beautiful and we made this a Christmas present for those who came with us. We hired a huge four-bedroomed lodge, each bedroom with its own en-suite. The lodge had a games room and a sauna as well as the usual kitchen, dining and living areas and was such a luxury to be there before Christmas. We loved it so much that we have booked again for next year with the addition of the new granddaughter and her mummy and daddy, too, who have never been there.

2018 has been such a positive year all round that the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 for all of my readers.

 

 

 

Ceroc, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Ceroc Christmas Party at the Carnegie Room, Thetford

Driving through sheets of windswept rain, attempting to keep the car from veering over the white lines, our spirits couldn’t be dampened.

We were headed for the annual Ceroc Christmas party with our Ceroc Thetford family, among others. Of all the parties, this was one we really didn’t want to miss.

Clive, ever the gentleman, dropped me at the door, allowing me to avoid as much of the torrential downpour as possible, and went off to park the car nearby.

We had arrived early, as arranged, to help Anna and Steve with the buffet preparations and lighting, along with Matty, so there was plenty of time for a chat before the guests started to arrive.

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And arrive they did. Prepaid party-goers were guaranteed, but we were surprised at how keen so many ‘pay-on-the-door’ dancers were, considering the dreadful weather conditions. Nothing was going to stop them last night and the dance floor was soon filled with festively happy faces.

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Sylvia and Rob arrived and were quick to set up their table which groaned under the weight of raffle prizes, continuing their fundraising to help the Ugandan orphans.

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With the dance floor warming up nicely, it was soon time for the customary ice-breaker class with Steve. Three packed rows of dancers soon became four and the fun lesson began. Steve’s three moves, intermediate and with a spattering of footwork, were enough to warm up the dancers and, for those who needed it, enable them to get to know one another.

By the time the twenty minute class was finished, the buffet was open and the party could begin.  Steve, as well as being the teacher, was the DJ for the evening and invited music requests while promising to throw in as many dance-worthy Christmas tunes as he could. He did a fabulous job and the dance floor was busy right up until the last tune was played at midnight.

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The buffet was kept well-stocked, with roasted vegetable crisps, sausage rolls, cheese straws, satsumas, mince pies and chocolate fingers being among the firm favourites.

Party outfits for the evening ranged from Christmas jumpers and tinsel wrapped dresses to sparkly party attire and be-sequined shirts often only reserved for the Strictly dance floor.

Following a gift of a mistletoe sprig from Sylvia, Anna had some fun on the door as dancers entered. As word spread, some of those who had missed the mistletoe fun, headed back to the door for a giggle.

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Dennis, Ceroc Fusion’s photographer, worked his camera tirelessly around the floor, capturing the mood of the evening. As you can imagine, photographing dancers mid-move while keeping both in shot and avoiding fuzzy movement pictures and tonsil-shots of the incessant sing-along-ers is not an easy task.

The second of the Ceroc Fusion Christmas parties was a resounding success. With one more party taking place at North Walsham next week, following the usual Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday regular class nights, there is still more Ceroc Fusion Christmas fun to be had this season.

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Ceroc, Dancing, Poem, Writer's Blog

Back at The Dance Ranch

Decision is made, dressed and ready to go,

One more sweep of make-up, its Christmas you know,

Head to the city, our nerves are on high,

Wild Stallion awaits, so much time has passed by.

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Car parked, bags ready, we head to the door,

Arms opened widely from friends by the door,

Ambient dance floor, the feel festively so,

Garlands abound, Christmas lights are aglow.

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Tunes spilling forth from our Rob on the decks,

Wide smiling greets us from Anna, at the desk,

Time for a drink, the choices discussed,

Refreshments aplenty, rehydration a must.

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Eight strikes the clock sitting high on the wall,

The floor starts to fill, we are having a ball,

One dance, another, then grabbed for one more,

In need of a drink, I dart from the floor.

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No rest I’m allowed because here comes another,

Gentleman dancer, hand proffered, its no bother,

Gulp down a few mouthfuls, my throat to hydrate,

Head back to the dance floor, we’ve hips to gyrate.

***

Rob spins a tune and one thing comes to mind,

Hurry on down to dance to a Nu Line,

Giggles, true laughter, down the line we can hear,

Nicky and Clive ham up wiggles, oh dear!

***

Not one dull moment, this freestyle can bring,

Dancing with friends, and chatting in the wings,

Great to see friends we’ve not seen for an age,

Time for a shake up, time for a new page.

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Nibbles depleted, the music is over

Its time to now to go, at the door we all hover,

Christmas greetings are many for those we won’t see,

The season is busy, many places to be.

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Plans made for dates in the future, not far,

More dancing freestyles to come, near and far,

Next week is for jumpers seasonally adorned,

To wear at all venues, to the theme we have warmed.

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Greetings over shoulders as we go into the night,

Hugs and more kisses as we bid friends, goodnight,

This dance night’s been awesome, my feet are quite sore,

In just a few days and we’ll be dancing some more!

***

Center Parcs, Daily Life, Dancing, Writer's Blog

Help! Mid-life crisis alert!

Does anybody, like me, wake up some mornings wishing they could start all over again, having made such a pig’s ear of their life so far? I am having one of those days today and I don’t usually write on bad days so this is new territory for me.

I have just returned from a midweek break with my husband, three of our children and our son-in-law at Center Parcs. We have been there lots of times before and always enjoy it for different reasons. This time, we booked ourselves into a luxurious executive lodge with four bedrooms, each with an en-suite bathroom, and we also had a sauna and a games room boasting a pool table, a multitude of board games and an X-box.

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We often try something new and this time, along with spa sessions, badminton, table tennis, long walks and swimming, we booked ourselves onto a pottery painting session. We had so much fun all week but I have returned to normality feeling completely exhausted and extremely fed up.

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Before we left, I had been really good and managed to lose four pounds in weight as I was quickly becoming one of those frumpy, menopausal middle-aged ladies who I do not aspire to become. While we were away, I avoided the sweet shop, enjoyed just one dessert and made as many healthy choices as I could. I had half of a pizza one evening with some wedges but always had healthy breakfasts. I ensured I had plenty of exercise and my pedometer didn’t hit below 17,000 steps each day with one day reaching 28000 and another, 24,000. I kept track of everything using my weight loss app and assumed I would not lose anything while I was away and, at most, gain a pound or two. I was devastated to step onto the scales yesterday morning to find I had gained five pounds, in five days. It seems impossible to me that I could gain that much over such a short amount of time. So, on top of everything else, the diet/healthy eating has begun with a vengeance. It certainly has not helped my overall mood.

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The usual back-from-holiday washing was easy to plough through. Tracksuit bottoms, leggings, t-shirts and fleeces all being easy to dry and put away, no iron required. Job done.

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A small amount of cupboard re-stocking at Tesco, then we decided to use the free time to do some Christmas present shopping. We had been put in the mood for the forthcoming season as our break was Winter Wonderland themed, and numerous twinkling white lights,  Christmas trees, garlands and faux snow had set the scene, putting us in the mood for Christmas.  We even had a luxurious wreath on the front door of our accommodation.  The whole Parc was alight with Christmas, including an awesome midweek fireworks display culminating, for the benefit of the younger guests, with Santa arriving along one of the zip wires across the festively-lit water sports lake.

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Returning to the shopping, both of us were physically tired, but we ambled around the city centre shops and successfully purchased a number of gifts. Pleased with our achievements, we headed home to snuggle up with a healthy vegetable risotto and to watch Strictly and catch up on some previously recorded TV programmes.

I still couldn’t shake the feeling of doom and gloom which had settled over me. Nagging at the back of my mind was my mum, who has been ill for a few years but had plateaued lately. Before we left, we had batch-cooked a bunch of pies and delivered to her freezer and agreed we would pick her up and take her over to see my daughter and son-in-law’s beautiful new home, recently purchased and now ready for visitors. As suspected, when we called her to arrange times she told us she didn’t feel well enough to go over. It’s possible that she didn’t but there is always a reason not to do something and I knew she wouldn’t bother before I even called. Then I started to beat myself up for being so heartless.  I know she is poorly and it must be very hard but she is her own worst enemy. She doesn’t encourage visitors and refuses to go anywhere. This results in my brother and sister-in-law, and my husband and I being poked at if we don’t visit enough. Its harder than you would imagine, to visit a poorly mother who you have never felt close to. There has always been an acidic relationship between me and my mum and, even though she is ill and alone, I have to psych myself to even call her as she drives me mad. Call me heartless, call me a bitch but it is how I feel.

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The trouble is, and I don’t mean trouble in the usual sense because it isn’t, we have five children of our own, all grown up, and my husband also has a mother who is also on her own. We each have a brother and sister-in-law and don’t spend nearly enough time with them all. We also have a new granddaughter who lives a two hour drive away so we have to factor in visiting to see that part of our family, too. We both work full time and my husband is physically tired in the evenings while I can’t resist checking my emails out of hours and helping with problems where I am able. As Manager of the IT Services department of a busy private school, sometimes issues need to be dealt with there and then.

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We used to dance two or three times a week but, as life takes over and changes happen, we are lucky to dance once a week and maybe twice if we have the energy. We always dance on a Wednesday night as I have a regular commitment to demoing while my husband is a Taxi Dancer, helping beginner dancers, on alternate weeks. This cut down in dance nights surely isn’t helping my fight with weight either.

On a Sunday, we have started meeting friends and/or family and I go off on a three mile walk while my husband takes off on his mountain bike with a friend, or joins us walking on other occasions. We keep as active as our commitments allow.

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We have two more breaks planned for the near future. The first is a dance weekender at a luxurious local holiday centre and it encompasses my 50th birthday while we are there. I am not looking forward to being fifty one jot. I already feel tired and listless and the only burst of energy I get is when I step out onto the dance floor. Maybe I missed dancing while we were away last week. It’s only one week but I guess I didn’t get my fix. There are plans for a birthday celebration while we are at the weekender with dance friends so that will be nice.

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We have another long weekend booked with my brother- and sister-in-law at the start of May which we are looking forward to. We haven’t thought further ahead than that.

So, I have a few reasons for feeling so low right now. Post-holiday blues, weight gain, fast-approaching age of fifty and an aged, ailing mother.

However, I have so much to be thankful for. I have the most caring, supportive, fun-loving and amazing husband I could wish for. Between us we have our five grown-up children, one of them married to our lovely son-in-law, one settled with his fiancee and their baby daughter and three who have yet to settle down but have good jobs and plenty of years ahead of them. I worry endlessly about them all, but never quite feel I give them each enough of my time. While they are mostly more than capable, I have been around a lot more years and so I like to be able to offer guidance and support as needed.

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If anyone out there has the answer to what is clearly my very own mid-life crisis, I would be grateful for all suggestions. So far, I have spent the weekend exhausted and crying hard enough to give myself a headache.