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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Daily Life, Norfolk Beach, Writer's Blog

Autumn Beach Day

Brake lights are frowning, fierce brows lie ahead,
Hoping the green light dares not change to red,
Birds taunt our dilemma, with freedom of wing,
Their flight is our envy, delay is our thing.
***
Crawl slowly past houses, this holiday morn,
Those who sleep late meeting not break of dawn,
Fields of young corn whisper, mockingly so,
Leaves rustle their solitude, we pass by – so slow.
***
Yawns of indifference break through the tension,
Eyes avoiding each other, annoyance unmentioned.
Silently yearn, wish we’d stayed warm in bed,
Tempered vibes palpable, pounding of head.
***
Ominous clouds threaten even less joy,
Incite inward screaming, no smile can destroy,
What lies ahead more than a dull, gloomy day,
Please pass by quickly, my mind can but pray.
***
The beach, still no brighter, cold seeps unseen places,
Companions arrive, the same gloom on their faces,
The journey, so tiresome, at least now has ended,
Our spirits, now together, our anger is mended.
***
Trolleys now loaded with kit and kaboodle,
We’ll hide ‘neath the shelter, but not to canoodle!
Our journey, not wasted, our men take their stance,
Of their kites we are voyeurs of much merry dance.
***
Much laughter and chatter, and wrongs to put right,
Hidden from cold winds, the men just in sight,
Sun’s rays, their appearance a welcome array,
A far better end than the start of our day.

Norfolk Beach

Journey, jam, fight and flight!

Brake lights are frowning, fierce brows lie ahead,
Hoping the green light dares not change to red,
Birds taunt our dilemma, with freedom of wing,
Their flight is our envy, delay is our thing.
***
Crawl slowly past houses, this holiday morn,
Those who sleep late meeting not break of dawn,
Fields of young corn whisper, mockingly so,
Leaves rustle their solitude, we pass by – so slow.
***
Yawns of indifference break through the tension,
Eyes avoiding each other, annoyance unmentioned.
Silently yearn, wish we’d stayed warm in bed,
Tempered vibes palpable, pounding of head.
***
Ominous clouds threaten even less joy,
Incite inward screaming, no smile can destroy,
What lies ahead more than a dull, gloomy day,
Please pass by quickly, my mind can but pray.
***
The beach, still no brighter, cold seeps unseen places,
Companions arrive, the same gloom on their faces,
The journey, so tiresome, at least now has ended,
Our spirits, now together, our anger is mended.
***
Trolleys now loaded with kit and kaboodle,
We’ll hide ‘neath the shelter, but not to canoodle!
Our journey, not wasted, our men take their stance,
Of their kites we are voyeurs of much merry dance.
***
Much laughter and chatter, and wrongs to put right,
Hidden from cold winds, the men just in sight,
Sun’s rays, their appearance a welcome array,
A far better end than the start of our day.

Norfolk Beach, Places to write

Gorleston – a place to write…

Gorleston was a relatively recent discovery of ours. As a child, nine Sundays out of ten were spent at Wells-Next-The-Sea. Not that I have anything against Wells (as it is colloquially known), but when you have been subjected to the same beach so many times that you can mentally visualise every grain of sand it becomes a little dull. In fairness, Wells does hold lots of memories for me as we had family living there and it was the last beach we ever visited with my dad before he became ill quite suddenly and we subsequently lost him. Maybe that is part of the reason I avoid going back there? Who knows how my subconscious advises me?

My husband and I happened upon Gorleston (Gorleston-On-Sea to give the town its full name), having headed to another nearby beach and found it overly busy and with parking spaces lacking. Driving a few miles along the coast we had arrived in Gorleston. Of course, I had heard of it, living in Norfolk all my life, how could I not have? With its beautiful sandy beach, a promenade stretching out into the distance and a handful of shops and amusements this was clearly a much-loved venue indeed.

The first section of unspoiled beach is a no-dogs, lifeguard patrolled area. Situated near to the few amusement arcades and beach shops, just enough that they are not distracting, it also boasts a generous pond for remote controlled boating enthusiasts and an extremely shallow pool, currently under refurbishment, for toddlers to paddle and splash in while parents look on from the comfort of the surrounding benches.

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Until very recently the beach also sported a generous inflatable play area where children could bounce, jump and burn off excesses of energy. Tragically, following a fatal accident, this area is now closed and, I believe, is still under investigation. It’s difficult to believe such a traumatic event could take place in such a beautiful location.

We discovered a fabulous beach cafe at the far end of the promenade. If you are prepared to walk for ten or fifteen minutes to reach it, or if you know the area well enough to drive to the parking spots close by, up on the clifftops then you will not be disappointed. The cafe is called Jay Jays and serves generous portions of delicious foods ranging from full hot meals to enormous salads, jacket potatoes and chips. The counter displays a most tempting array of cookies, cakes, savoury pastries and biscuits too.  No trip to Gorleston is complete for me without at least a cappuccino from Jay Jays. It was somewhat quiet a couple of years ago, when we first discovered it but it is quiet no more and is most often heavy on customers, with chairs and tables spilling out onto the promenade and queues of customers prepared to wait for the delights on offer. If for no other reason, it’s worth a trip his to pop in for a coffee. The staff at Jay Jays are always friendly and genuinely appear to enjoy their work. They clean the tables non-stop and the place has a worthy 5/5 food hygiene rating.

The beach, more the promenade, is frequented by runners, skateboarders, dog walkers and walkers alike and there is more than enough space for everyone. We often go to allow my husband to fly his kites on the beach or clifftop depending upon the weather and not forgetting the all-important wind speed. This might be a good time to point out that during the great storm of 1987, Gorleston experienced the highest recorded wind speed in the UK, reaching 122mph! I am certain my husband does not have a kite capable of handling that much wind.

The most important thing about Gorleston is the peacefulness. While hubby is happily flying his kites, I can sit and daydream, read a book and write. If its breezy, he puts a windbreak around me and I cuddle down behind it with notebook and pen, in writing heaven. We pick a spot near Jay Jays or, very occasionally, at the busier family end of the beach, just close enough for us to buy drinks and ice creams and use the facilities.

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Whether you want to ride your bike or skateboard, walk your dog, fly your kite, play on the beach or, like me, sit and watch the world go by while planning your next story or poem, Gorleston truly is a most beautiful, unspoiled place to choose.