Tag Archives: Gresford

The Fat Man at Christmas

I have just been for a walk. I needed to get out and burn off some of that Christmas food, and we haven’t actually reached Christmas day yet. So it set me thinking while I walked, why do we eat so much at Christmas.

It all started many centuries ago; During the winter months, people came close to starving or actually did starve as the winter progressed. There were not the resources to store or import food, so we only had what we could grow at the time.
When we reached the longest night, now close to the limit of endurance, the night’s started to shorten. This made it a time for celebration. Bring some greenery into the house to prove it was not all over. Kill one of the birds we had saved and have a mid winter feast, eat it along with what we could grow during the frosts, sprouts, parsnips, and other root veg.
Then the Christians came long, they adopted the pagan festival and called it Christmas. So we stuck a star on the top of the evergreen tree that we had in the house and called it a Christmas tree. Now we had a feast to celebrate something other that the end of a fast.
As we moved into the industrial era some companies provided a Christmas meal for their workers. Ironically the reason they needed to do this is because they paid them so badly that they were once again on the verge of starvation.
So now there were two feasts, the family and the company.
Then along came Coca cola, mass advertising, and an age of greed. They presented Christmas as a fat man in Coca cola colours along with mass consumption Father Christmas was born.
Now in a modern age, there is no risk of hunger (not for the rich third of the world anyway) so we don’t go hungry at all before we feast.
Then our family feast has grown. We have a work family to feast with. We have a social family to feast with (often more than one) and not forgetting our actual family.
So we feast, and then feast some more. Often completely forgetting why we feasted in the first place.
So before you feast again take some time to just go hungry for a short while and think of others.
Meanwhile I am off to another party. More cake along with the tango and drinks.
Happy Christmas from Gresford, don’t eat too much and enjoy the celebrations.

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The hot summer weather did not last, we have had period of awful weather that curtailed some of my activities. On such a day, we had intended to go out on the bikes and get some miles in our cycling legs. I am, I’m afraid, a fair weather cyclist. I can wrap up against most types of weather when I walk, but on a bike it just gets through everything. I sat there wondering what to do and decided that I would finally decorate the spare bedroom. Once started it did not take that long and I felt satisfied that it was done at last.
The day was not totally lost though, we decided to go for a meal at The Crown. The Crown is about a mile and a half away with some strenuous hills between. So we wrapped up and braved the atrocious weather. It felt good to get out and we felt we had deserved the meal when we got there. By the time we had finished, so had the rain and we left the waterproof trousers off for the walk home. The air was clear and it was just starting to darken. Then we heard a strange noise that we have not heard for some while. We looked up and our eyes were delighted by ducks flying over in formation, a sure sign that autumn is really here.
Appropriate really, my personal autumn matches the seasons. We have also found activities that match the season and for a while all is good.
We have managed to get some tango in as well, for the last three months I have been able to get to Wilmslow for Atilla’s stepping out milonga, and surprisingly I think we can make Stokies next weekend. Then unfortunately we are back to missing all the events again, still the two weeks without Gresford Tango have passed and a quick check shows that we will only have to miss one after my holidays. We will then be clear until May, when we must curtail the tango in favour of pilgrimage.
Because we are going on a pilgrimage I have been asked if I am deeply religious, it is, I suppose a strange thing for an atheist to do, to go on a pilgrimage. It is said every pilgrim has his own reasons and it would be hard to define mine. Just let’s say we all need to be tested at some time in our lives and I love Spain. Anyway, I will be writing a lot about the Camino de Santiago in the coming months and with luck I will be carrying on the blog from Spain next May.
Stick with me though, tango will never be that far away. We are tango vampires and not just because we only come out at night, but also because once bitten, the affliction is eternal.


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Missing you all

It comes always at this time of year. I sit for hours reading my old blogs. Not just any, you understand, no, I read all the blog entries from my time in Buenos Aires. As I read each entry I am transported back for just a short while to the city of tango again.
Viv never really understands why I put everything down while we are there, but for me it is therapy. When I am missing the place most, all my experiences are there for me again. The more that I write the more I have to read in the times when I start to really miss the place.
All the characters are there and all my friends. Jantango is on almost every page. Pericles makes at least one appearance a trip and the wonderful people from Villa Crespo who attend Fulgor are there twice a week. Luba and Philippe, Juan and Mariela, Jose and Lili along with their dog Ochi, then there are all the milonga organisers and staff who always make me welcome, the list goes on.
I am sure I have missed someone out, but it is now the middle of the night and I should be working, so if it is you please forgive me.
All the idiosyncracies of the Argentine system that infuriate Viv (and even me at times) are there in the blog along with all the things that make me love the place as well.
This will be my longest time away now since our first trip, but I look forward to being able to spend much longer in our second home after next year, so the wait will be worth it. In the mean time I have things to do here, work to attend, walks to do, dances to go to and trips away in the caravan.Not forgetting, of course, our practicas and the now famous Gresford Tango.
It all brings colour to our lives, but nothing stops me missing you all and I cannot wait to see you again.
Hasta pronto.


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French fun

Someone told me it was Bastille day on Sunday. Well I need little excuse to dress up and when I was brought a stripe shirt and onion string I was off.
The trouble was I was working this Monday and Viv had her dress rehearsal for the tap show in Wrexham. Still the show must go on and we just went ahead anyway.
I had a disappointment when Tango Stafford cancelled, I was really looking forward to welcoming them to our little suare.
I tried to sleep when I got home, but unusually I could not manage it. I think with Viv not being there I was worried about not waking.
Then I had some great news; our friends Roger and Mirta were going to come.
Well we had some french colours, a french maid, and of course LeClerc cunningly disguised as an onion seller. A good head count despite.
Our entrada is all used to buy food and drinks, but despite two extra bottles of wine arrived, as did macaroons extra drinks french pastries and other sundries that I cannot recall at this moment. Our every reliable neighbour brought a curry. It became another positive calorie event.
Vivs rehearsal finished early, apparently they did the finale first. So by nine we had a dozen and we managed to fill the dance floor.
It always seems that whenever I expect a flat night, our friends come around and lift us to new levels.
Sadly we had to send Roger away earlier than we would normally would have, I still had to get up next morning. Hopefully the sales pitch I was throwing at him all night will bring him back soon.
So that is it, I am now exploring Google and looking for a theme for every event. Next one; The rat catchers ball. International Rat Catchers day 22 nd of July, I am not making this up, it is true check google. So all you Pied Pipers come along and enjoy the fun. Best of all, next week I am off work, so whatever, I can keep the party going all night if you can hold on.

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Fit to dance?

Now I have never been a natural athlete. Even now when I am probably the fittest I have been for twenty years, you would not call me athletic.
There is however a fitness associated with dancing. It is a fitness unlike any other, it involves the way we hold our bodies up, the ability to move in a way unlike any other and a degree of flexibility that involves completely different parts of the body.
It must do us a lot of good though. Have you seen how many octogenarians are still dancing? It keeps them fit and active and it is not unusual to see men in their nineties still cutting a rug in Buenos Aires, and making us relative youngsters look positively pedestrian.
Recently we have had a new student here at Gresford, a tri-athlete no less. Now I know I would be a mess if I ever tried running swimming and cycling in quick succession, so obviously he is far fitter than I am. Never the less at the end of an hour’s lesson he is reduced to a sweaty mess. He says he never realized it would be so hard.
It does my ego some good to think someone who is so fit cannot keep up with me; I am tempted to say “keep up pussy” but then he may just challenge me to a triathlon in retaliation. Perhaps it is best I keep my mouth shut.

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Cleared Ready to dance

Ready for breakfast, table in place.A

Tape cutting Ceremony

Tape is cut Lets danceWell after months of planning and weeks of work we were finally ready to open. Just in time for Easter. It is not finished, you understand. The light fitting is on a plug (as you can see in the first photo)as I have some major work to get the supply through and the garden is not returned to condition. However we were ready to open for dancing.
The floor was warmed, the table was set and the music piped in, all we needed now was some dancers. Our first visitor said “you need a tape to cut” so Viv found some tape and I fabricated a bow.
Dancers soon arrived and before long we had a good crowd assembled.
We had our tape cutting ceremony and then we were off. I think we can declare it a success, nobody fell over my tiling and everyone enjoyed the space. There was not much dancing in the old space but at least now we are ready if we ever get a bigger crowd.
Many mini eggs were consumed, and too much chocolate by half. Well it is only Easter once a year. I have a new source of Argentine Malbec so the wine flowed. Again Gresford Tango was turned into a positive calorie event, with plenty of cake and biscuits as well.
I spent the next day tidying the garden up and cleaning the windows, so next Monday should be an even greater event, now we have a better view.
Only three more practicas until we go to Buenos Aires, so let’s enjoy ourselves. For those who cannot, for whatever reason, make these, we will see you again in June.

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Halloween 2012

Things have been quiet here at Casa Gresford of late. I think it is just the time of year.

Some people are missing due to other commitments, some have been ill and some just too tired after busy days. The thing to be sure of though is we will still be here when they return. That said I have been working nights for the past two weeks, that is just the way my rota works. We were back though as big and lively as ever for our Halloween practica on 29th October.

This is the great thing about running an event from home; if the numbers drop we will never reach a time when it is un-economic. We will just buy less food and wine and just carry on.

Fortunately we have not reached the point we were at in the early days and we know that many of our prodigals will return. The books show a healthy number and the party season is fast approaching.

So come the big day of our Halloween milonga and suddenly the phone and internet were alive with people saying that they would come. Viv spent all the money that was in the box on decorations, food and wine.

I am glad to say it was not in vain, we had record numbers and a good few came dressed for the occasion. We even had some Italians, who although they did not tango, certainly added to the fun.

We did a “bit in the middle” but not as many as I thought took the opportunity to boogie. I still had one trick up my sleeve though: I insisted all the non-dancers come through for a Chacarera lesson. Despite some reticence, I think, they actually enjoyed it. Although they all said “we cannot dance” surprisingly, it never descended into Chaos. Not that I would have minded, half the fun of these things is when it all goes wrong.

Those who did not know about milongas were at first a bit confused by my Halloween themed cortinas, but they soon got the idea.

I must pass special thanks on for the wine that was brought, Special Halloween cake, parkin and all the other sundries. We have enough food now for at least the next two practicas. As always I was too busy to get enough pictures, so I have only the few in costume. And I am really sorry I did not get a picture of the cake, it was a masterpiece. Still those I did take I am happy to share.

Always good sports

Still can’t understand what he was saying. Still he danced belisimo.

Just arrived on her broomstick

Now stealing souls in your nieghbourhood.

A fully paid up member of The Assasins Guild

Ah ha ha ha haa 

See we do have a reflection

I think he was heading for your flies.

Best Chacarera dancers of the night.

Nice make up, but do you know you have a Duck on your head? 


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September Break

With Viv not wanting to do the epic South America flights and the appalling weather we have been having, I have left any plans up in the air. I fully intended to take a cheap flight to Spain if the weather deteriorated again, but for now we were in flux.

I spent the first weekend at the Corwen walking festival, but the week-time just seemed to fly by. Of course there was dancing almost every night. Our Monday practica did not need to be cancelled and we had a few private classes during the week.

So the next weekend arrived at breakneck speed. Again we were away, we took the caravan down to Telford, staying at our favourite Severn Valley Gorge campsite.It was off to the Ludlow Food Festival Saturday. Cheese, Sausage, pies, all there for the tasting. Left me with no room for actual lunch. In the evening we lit the barbie and cremated some Pen-Y-Lan pork sausages outside the van. While I serenaded Viv with the out of tune broken guitar I bought for a tenner at the Sue Rider shop.

On Sunday we headed out towards Stafford, where Geoff and Pauline Hudson were holding their monthly milonga. The great thing about holidays is you can get out and explore places you don’t normally get to, so we made the most of it.

It was a great venue and everyone was friendly. We caught up with some old friends we have not seen for some time. The Stokies crowd were there, some from Shrewsbury, even Manchester. Makes me ashamed that I only travel when I am off.

Geoff had been cooking (I suspect Pauline was also involved) so we had some great food. Geoff did his DJ bit faultlessly and we left very happy. Geoff, Pauline, Nat Stoke bloke and Essy Joe all came out to wave us goodbye at the end. 

We had to get back of course, Tango Gresford was back on again Monday. Don’t stop the tango train.

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Gresford Pyrotechnics

First of all I would like to thank all those who turned up for our last chance milonga. I realise it had been a beautiful couple of days and the barbeques were calling. You are all stars.

Because it was suddenly so warm and the prediction was that it would still be 12 degrees at ten o’clock, we thought tonight we could spread out into the garden.

Tea lights were lit, a sign directing people around the back was put up and the table placed outside. The table decoration that we had remade for us in the village was placed centre table. The candles in it, looked passed their best so we fitted new ones and lit them, everything looked blissful. Hopefully we had created a magical ambiance.

The dancing began and soon we were all in the dance room enjoying the music.

It was, I think during a vals that things suddenly happened. Some body said “FIRE”, at first nobody did too much. I guess we just did not realize. Then I saw flames pouring out of our table display.

I could still lift it off the table and I put it down on the gravel. Viv then poured the little houseplant watering can all over the foliage. This just made it more angry, so I grabbed the big watering can and poured about two gallons of water over the fire. A little thing it may have been, but it was a persistent little thing. So it had to stay outside for the night, just in case.

After all the excitement we just went back to the dancing. After all we are British, and we British just carry on.

The next day we examined the wreckage. It seems the candles had melted, the wax had fallen into the bottom of the bowl, and when it had reached a critical mass it had burst into flames. So in effect we had been trying to extinguish an oil fire with water, no wonder it had been so persistent.

The only redeeming factor is that, we had, this night, had everything outside. Had the table been in its normal position, the curtains probably would have gone up in flames also, and who knows what would have happened next.

 In all that excitement my carefully chosen cortinas were almost missed, “Spanish eyes” (“soon I’ll return”, and, “This is just adios and not goodbye”) “Around the world” and of course “Summer Holiday” not forgetting the inimitable “Hey we’re going toBarbados”. Cheesy, I know, but hopefully everyone will remember this night and will return when we get back in May. (I hope they remember not just the fire but instead remember the good dancing).

Until then it’s “Hasta la vista” and keep your eye out for my daily postings from Amsterdam and Buenos Aires.

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You never Can tell

Well our Halloween event came and went. As often happens we thought it was going to be a disaster, with all our regulars away or injured. We had everything set up but were expecting no one. Even our regular friendly neighbour was away and unable to attend.

Quarter past eight arrived and there were only three of us, then, suddenly they all started arriving, all our friends from the past and irregular visitors.

Things were going well and then we got the trick or treaters. Perhaps we should have all gone to the door and given them a trick, but the blood soaked corpse that met me at the door was just another of our old friends. He had brought with him a birthday girl and two bottles of sparkling wine. OK so lets party.

I have just one complaint however; Viv was still cleaning up blood a week later.

In the end we had a dammed good night and for once some stayed for La Cumparsita (even though I had miscalculated somewhat and it was twenty minutes late).

We had a similar story last week, all the regulars could not attend but we still ended up having a great night.

It just shows, you can never tell. On a normal week we have less than a third of our dancers turn up. We have come to rely on the same few people coming every week, but somehow when they cannot be here others turn up as if by magic.

My pessimistic view that we will be all alone somehow never happens, but by the same token, they never all turn up together. Each week we have a manageable group, somehow, just enough for a party but never too crowded.

Just for a change I organised the music in milonga format. It posed quite a challenge organising the sheets to announce the oquestas but it was worth it for some variety.

The cortinas of “Thriller” and “monster mash” went down well as did “The Adams Family” and “Munsters”. These were all changed for last week but some, who have not been to a milonga before were puzzled by Nat King Cole in the midst of tango music.

Hopefully now educated they will return for more milonga fun, or even come with us to some far flung dances as we venture out to distant pastures.

You just never know.

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