New Zealand / Australia Diary
Saturday 21 April 2012

The view from the breakwater, Newcastle

With my first workshop not starting until the afternoon Annie took me into town to see a bit of Newcastle. I'd never been here before and apart from a vague association with heavy industry & mining, which could have been my own unconscious link with Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I had no idea of what to expect.

Turns out my subconscious was on to something - the first things I see as we head into the city are enormous piles of coal. It seems that carrying coals to Newcastle would be as foolish in New South Wales as on Tyneside.

Moving on into the city centre there are some beautiful brick buildings, bursting with Victorian (the queen, not the state) confidence & optimism. As we move towards the coast we enter residential districts with the elaborately ornate wrought iron work on the upstairs verandas that are so typical of Australian city homes. Eventually we park and continue on foot past Fort Scratchly (I'm not making this up!) and on towards the fabulously named Nobby's Beach. The surf seems a little rough for a paddle so we stay safely above the tide line and walk along the artificial spit that shelters the mouth of the Hunter river and the port of Newcastle.

It's a classic Australian scene - surfers in the water, joggers, cyclists and rollerbladers sharing the pathway, sun beaming down and a gentle sea breeze to keep the heat at bay. I hear no recorded or broadcast music, no raised voices, no screaming children, no relentless drone of traffic, just conversation, rollerskate rumble and the muted crash of the waves on the rocks. At one point the noise of straining engines cuts through but even this has a poetic source as a large seaplane rises from the harbour and banks away northwards. Maybe my visitor's perspective is missing the grimy underside of this idyllic scene but for now I just lap it up and enjoy it.

After a light lunch at home we pack up the Essential Supplies, including balloons to bedeck the entrance and attract wandering dancers, and head off to the hall for the workshop. It's a nice, big space but currently filled with tables & chairs so five minutes is spent clearing them away to the sides and stacking up the surplus seats. People start to arrive so I tear myself away from rearranging my prospective dance list YET AGAIN and socialise.

View over Newcastle. Lots of trees!

The workshop goes well, despite my over-anxious worries. I start off intending to please everybody but quickly realise that with just three hours there'll only be time for a handful of dances if we're going to do them in any depth. As the first dance comes to an end (I always start with something totally familiar so I can think about what to follow it with) I relax and the choice of which dance to do next comes easily & obviously, and so it goes through the workshop. We do (and repeat) four dances in the first hour, three in the second, then repeat them in the final slot. Only seven dances but it feels like we've really danced into them and gotten them into our bodies. A good workshop.

On the way home we drive up onto a hill and enjoy the wide cityscape bathed in pinkish evening sunlight. Lots of trees - parts of the city look like a forest from up on high.

As we arrive back home both Annie & I are feeling tired so it's a takeaway curry and an early night. I catch up on my blog & some emails but not for long and soon I'm away in the Land of Nod.

Annie's garden

The international symbol for a Circle Dance workshop

View towards Nobby's Beach

Nobby's Beach

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