Tag Archives: vals


Spent the morning watching the rugby. Wales made some surprising decisions, it was almost as if they wanted England to win. I am no expert in fact I find the game very confusing, but I found myself agreeing with the commentators. Maybe it is just not Wales time.

It’s Saturday so It is El Arranque, but we go with a heavy heart, knowing that it’s days are numbered.

I don’t know whether they have already started to desert, like rats from a sinking ship, but there were less of the regulars today. There seemed to be a lot of turistas though. There were three tables set up for one lot, I thought it was just a birthday party, but they were taking photos of the dance floor. Horatio must have given up, because he is usually very strict on stopping people photographing the floor. I decided to take some photos myself, for posterity and one guy got funny with me “solo el edificio” I said to him and he seemed placated.

Viv was having trouble, the dancers she was getting were not good and usually very old. A couple of times I got her up just for relief. She asked me to the Vals and with her and then she had enough, so it was off into the night then.

Saturday we usually go out to eat, but we were unsure where to go. We intended to get off the subte at Gardel but then changed our minds. We got off, instead at Medrano and went to Pachi bar.  Like most places here it is mainly pizzas, but with some imagination it is possible to conjure up something different. We ordered Bondolinas (You will have to look it up, basically pork) and a plate of chips and also a salad.

While this was being prepared we had a bottle of stout and some peanuts to keep us going. Well we were well filled up for less than £15. It just shows you can still do it here  if you know what you are doing.

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“Si es continuar, marca dos”

Every day may two or three times a day, for a week now we have had the call from telefonica; “We are calling in response to your technical queries. If the problem is repaired press 1 if the problems continue press 2”. Well today I got a different call, the engineer would be here in five minutes.

He came, he unplugged my modem and re-tried it, then he plugged in a modem from his bag. Meanwhile his mobile rang and he sat on the arm of my settee talking on his mobile. After half an hour looking at the back of his head, he said the problem is not here and left. In the lift he assured me it would be fixed during the week ahead. Somehow I think we have another week of early morning calls to look forward to.

We took the subte down to Callao and two blocks along we saw a motorbike stopped at the lights. Two policemen took the two riders to the side of the road to question them. If you think motorcyclists have it bad at home, you should see it here. There were four other police surrounding them all with their hands on their guns. We beat a hasty retreat.

Back in El Arranque the waiter (Horacio) had our drinks ready for us. Coming early is definitely a bonus for Viv, she was up before me in every tanda. The only one she sat down for was Pugliese, funny really just the two of us on this row sitting out a tanda that everyone seems to love.

After seven we had the chacarera then there was a Paso doble. Viv would only do one so I did the second with Graciela. We had agreed that we would do one more tanda after the break and then go. So we did a last tanda together and I stared taking my shoes off. As always happens, the best music now came on, a D’Angelis vals. well Viv was straight up and I was left sitting there. Not for long though, I had my street shoes on but I was not going to be outdone. Graciela was eyeing me up so off we went, Lagrimas y sonrisas to start.

In the gaps I told her of my shoes, 30 years old “Cierto?” she said. The best shoes in the world, but because they are so good, the factory is closed. Everyone who wants them now has them and there is no need to replace them. Sad but true. Unfortunately though, even the best in the world, do not last forever and I fear that they will have to go in the rubbish before we return.

We caught the 151 colectivo, but this time we did not get off at Salguero 799. We stayed on while it turned up Cordoba until it reached Araoz. We got off and headed for Dr Masons, now called Shanghai Dragon. I asked the guy when it changed name “3 years ago” he said, it was my turn to say “Cierto?” So it must have been 2011 when we came here with Bert and Brigitte.

The prices look expensive now, not in UK terms, but definitely for here. Fortunately It was happy hour, because the beer is London prices. Anyway we ordered Thai rice for two. He came back and said we could not have it as there was a problem with the noodles. Not until we were walking home did we realise, we did not order noodles.

So Viv ordered Tsos Chicken and I ordered  Beef Rogan josh. I should have learned by now. It may have tasted good, it may have been excellently prepared and presented, but what I got was not Rogan Josh. Rogan Josh is a tomato base, what I got was beef in gravy. The Chili symbol by the side menu was just decoration. It may have been introduced to a chili at a party some time, they may have had a torrid affair, but the chili had long gone. Viv said it served me right, I should really have learned by now. When I get home I am going to have a massive Indian that will blow my socks off.

Vivs Chicken meanwhile was delicious and, ironically, more spicy than my curry. So Dr Masons is no more, just shows you can never go back.

We had some thoughts later and decided it must have been 2009 last time we went with Bert and Brigitte, time flies they say.



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Ian and Claire

Sometimes you have to break your own rules, rules made for good reason but reasons change. Such was the case with Ian,he wanted to dance for his wedding.
The rules of Tangobob state that the basics must be learned first, nothing is routine based and the woman should not know what is coming and anticipate.
When someone wants to dance a demo with no previous and only a few weeks to achieve this, the rules needed a complete rethink.
OK the basics had to be learned, but there was no time to refine or perfect them. A routine of sorts was devised, basic though it was, it had to be kept simple as there was simply not enough time to learn anything complex. Then there was the ending, if Ian missed it then sure enough Claire was going to do it anyway.
My biggest worry was that it would all fall apart in the middle, I never really expected the leg wrap to work at the end. They had the music “Vals de Verano” by Alberto Cuello they just had to learn how it finished and hopefully all would be ok.
Most tangos are about lost love and sorrow, so I thought that this best suited the situation. Viv wanted “Mi novia de ayer” “She was his girlfriend now she’s his wife” I’m afraid she did not quite get the meaning. Truth is though I prefered the tune, but even though most would not understand the significance, I could not let them dance to my girlfriend of yesterday.
Anyway I have filmed it and I think that they did very well, let me know what you think (please be kind). Maybe, just maybe we will have some newcomers to tango.
We at Gresford Tango wish them all the best in their life ahead and I promise the dance was much better than Claire seemed to think it was.


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Lunch with Janis

We woke up late again. I seem to spend most of my holidays sleeping, still if that is what my body needs, so be it.

We caught the 168 again and got off at Alsina to walk through to Jantango’s.  The food she had promised us she kept and so we arranged to arrive early (one in the afternoon is very early by Buenos Aires standards).

We pressed her buzzer, no answer. One of her neighbours’ wanted to let us into the building, but then we would have been trapped, so we declined. We were inside the iron gate though and another neighbor asked how we got in. She seemed happy enough with my answer. Yet another came through, it must have been rush hour at Janis’s.

At about ten past Janis arrived, seems I had forgotten about ish time again. She had been to the supermarket and Ice-cream store.

So we got in and sat down and just talked, while she put the food on. She asked if we wanted coffee, this time however she let me make it. Janis is that rare thing, an American who does not drink coffee.

We ate her hake and mash drank more coffee and just talked. Her cat meanwhile was getting very agitated; the smell of fish is something guaranteed to get cats going.

Had we been here four hours? Well it was time to catch our favourite 168 again. As we approached Moreno y Alberti the bus was at the stop. We ran but no amount of hand waving was going to stop him, the driver had his cuppa waiting at the end of his journey. Fortunately this time we did not have too long a wait for the next one.

Now this 168 follows a different route (two busses with the same number? This is Argentina) so we are not used to the stops. I am afraid I jumped too soon, still they stop every four blocks so it was not too far and I quite enjoy approaching from different directions.

Fulgor again tonight, as it is Sunday. There is not a lot I can say, great music, and wonderful people just a great time. We were getting hungry again though, so we tried the pizza again “buen cocido” I tried but still it was not cooked well enough for Viv, I guess they just do not understand how we like our pizza .

We danced Pugliese again, normally I prefer to listen, but they started with La Yumba, it just had to be done. I don’t know whether it is special for Los Galeses, but they played an awful lot of milonga and vals last night. We were truly exhausted by the end.

One thing that I think is definitely for us was the new signs on the doors “El Bano” now had “Bathroom” “Caballero” now had “Gentlemen” and “Damas” now had “Ladie” (sic).

At the end of the night we left with our usual kisses and a promise to return Jueves.


Filed under Argentina, milonga, Tango

Facing our demons

After our disturbed sleep in Amsterdam and the endless flight we arrived at about nine in the evening. Too tired to even go for food. I did a little sorting while Viv made the bed then we retired and slept the sleep of the innocent.

Despite this I felt awful when I awoke, but there were things to do. We had to shop for provisions and a new desk. I also had to tell the world that my phone had been lost along with all my numbers. Hopefully people will get in touch with me now because I cannot reach them.

By early afternoon we were ready to go out and we set off for the subte. I had doubts as to whether my card would still work so I put ten pesos on it, no point in putting too much on at this point. Then we had a shock, the subte price had more than doubled, it was now two pesos fifty where as before it had been one ten. So my return journey would empty my card again, but at least it worked.

The same waiter greeted us as we arrived at El Arranque but we told him tonight we wanted to be (junto) together. It was our first night of dancing and there was no point in making it stressful. As usual within a few minutes of dancing I had forgotten how awful I had felt and we were back in the swing.

We watched more than danced, not being fully match fit as it were. Still it was nice to watch some very good dancers, some mediocre and some plain awful and then to wonder which category the watchers would put us in.

We chose which tandas we would dance and those we would not. Milonga always got us up as did Vals but unexpectedly we got up for a Pugliese tanda, it was definitely a case of facing our demons. I think I coped quite well, but I still do not like it and found it difficult to manoeuvre especially as Pugliese calls for some big moves and the piso simply would not allow it.

Too soon Viv was complaining of being tired and we made to go, but before we did there was another Pugliese tanda and it started with La Yumba, it had to be danced. Demons once faced cannot be turned away from.

We took the D subte line and got off at Bulnes. All Viv wanted was her lentejas at 1810. So we had the empanadas with Carne picante followed by the lentejas, all washed down with a litre of Stella Artois. A good way to end our first day here.

Subte      underground or subway in Buenos Aires

El Arranque      An afternoon milonga at Salon Argentina

Piso      The dance floor

Lentejas      Lentils or lentil stew

Empanadas     Argentine pasties

Carne picante      spicy beef

1810     the year of Argentine independance or in this case a restaurant named after it serving artisanal food at a great price.


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Something Has to give

Well I am not complaining (maybe a little about work) but with all the calls on my time, in the end, something had to give.

So this Thursday we missed our regular social dance at Saltney Social Club. It  was a shame , but with having people here until seven-thirty and not yet eaten. It was nearly nine by the time we were ready to go out. For those who do not know, it goes something like this; Eight thirty, start dancing, Nine thirty break, Ten start again and eleven finish. We would have missed the first half completely and for just an hour of dancing, well I could not be bothered.

We had had a good day of classes here and some tango practice of our own, so we were not devoid of dancing all together. But by the time it was all over we were probably too tired anyway. So I finished off a bottle of Bailey’s and we had an early night.

We got some tango in over the weekend though. We had arranged to take our caravan to a local Rally that was mainly about dancing. Local, really is the word here, it was across the road from my workplace.  They had asked us to give them a demo on the Saturday night, so only too pleased, I agreed.

We had the opportunity to practise in the afternoon, so we knew the floor and what we could do. Viv, who really is coming out, spoke to them about what tango is and why it is so different from Strictly Come Dancing. We gave them a Tango (Champagne Tango, Di’Sarli) a vals (Pobre Flor, De Angelis) and , my favourite milonga (Yo Soy de San Telmo, Di’Sarli, again). In the end they gave us rapturous applause and everyone seemed to enjoy our little demo.

Hopefully we can get a  few converts from this sequence crowd, if not, at least they now have an idea of how they tango in Buenos Aires.

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Due to the lateness of last nights festivities we did not get out of bed until nearly two. We had arranged to go to Janis for lunch, so we were running late, all sorted and out the door, we had reached Corrientes when Viv said “Where are your dance shoes?” so we had further delays while I went upstairs to retrieve them. I had misplaced my camera the night before and that, I think, was distracting me.

Being Sunday it was hard to find anywhere open, but right opposite the bus stop there was one supermarket where we managed to get a bottle, so finally armed we waited to cross the road, just then Janis rang to say do not hurry we are only just up, again distracted I almost committed suicide crossing in front of the traffic. I asked Janis to check the back of Adolfo’s car for the camera, it is worth very little but for my photos, but it would be a disaster if they broke into Adolfo’s car to steal it.

I don’t know how we always do it here, we had said four o’clock, and despite all the setbacks, the late arousal and the vagaries of the Collectivos, we arrived at two minutes past, , Janis greeted us at the door waving my camera at us, it had been lying in the back seat.

Adolfo cooked us fresh pasta and chicken, we ate far more than we normally would, but the food was so good. Adolfo kept on that he should have cooked four packs, but we would only have eaten it and felt too stuffed to dance, as it was we left very little and we had room to polish off the iced cream that Janis had bought in.

We had a bit of an impromptu dance class in the lounge, Adolfo reluctantly finally putting on his shoes. Janis has made a video and I am under orders to post it here later. Feeling guilty, about leaving, at about eight thirty we set off for Fulgor, Janis was going to Lo de Celia and would sit apart from Adolfo, so tonight would not have been a good night for us to go out together.

I am getting good at this collectivo lark, we managed to get off at the right stop for Janis and we did just as well for Fulgor. It helps, of course, that I know this part of town well, but preparation with comoviaje is the key for me.

These streets I know well it was how we used to reach Fulgor in the past and I could reel off the names before we got there, so I though my old brain was working well, but obviouslynot, I had forgotten it was the Fulgor anniversary. The old rottweiler on the door would not let me in “si no tienes reserva, no hay sillas”. On a night of storms a week ago the place had been empty but for the crowd I had brought, this was not going to happen. “Hablamos con Roberto” I said and although looking doubtful Roberto let us in, but said “no hay sillas” so we had two plastic patio seats and sat at the back. When you are a regular here things happen, and the couple at the next table were soon moved to join some friends further down and suddenly, we had a seat and a table.

Tonight was not going to be all dancing and as I put my coat away I noticed a group of downs children in Tuxedos, we did not get the first dance in before we had a demo. They were enchanting it may have not been step perfect but they had fire and enthusiasm in bucket loads, I had not yet seen the best but definitely this was the most enjoyable show. The applause was genuine and warm all the way through and I joined the others around the room in the ovation at the end.

Almost every other tanda was followed by a demo, including, at one point, a belly dancer. Most did only one dance, but one guy did a tango, a Vals then a fabulous milonga, he even finished with Rock around the clock. As I have said, I am not impressed with fancy demos, but this guy was incredible, he did a full circle just walking, his posture, his timing, everything was just fantastic. I come to this hemisphere to dance, not to watch or to take classes, but I said to Viv “that is the guy I want to have classes with. I now have his card and his blog address Jorge Garcia go there and watch him dance.

Once I had spoken to him he was already giving me advice (as always head up) he was doing this for free because he loves it not just to grab the tourist dollars. I felt his eyes on me assessing my moves and my posture, he would be a hard task master.

Although I love the dancing here, this is not really my scene, I prefer to dance than to watch, and soon I had my opportunity; Roberto asked our names and said “te gusta D’Arienzo?” Viv was not happy about what was about to happen, Roberto stood mid floor and said “Desde Gales, Bob y Viviana” everyone was clapping, there was no way out, so we took the floor. I don’t think we disgraced ourselves, I did pull one or two crowd pleasing moves, after all this was now a demo, not a milonga, but of all the nice comments we had later, the one I enjoyed the most was that we danced the music. As we moved around the room I thought “head up” and looked at Jorge Garcia as I did, he was nodding sagely.

What a night! great food, cooked by a porteno, great demos, torte y cidra, and Los Galeses wowed them in Villa Crespo. Viv may not like to admit it, but she enjoyed our demo immensely and I think we will be talking about this night for a long time to come.

Oh and one other thing, The ONLY place in the world where you can see two men kissing in the toilets and know they are not gay, is Buenos Aires.


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Kindred Spirits

I refused a lady a dance last night, she looked shocked, as you can imagine, but I told her I would dance with her later when there was better music on. I was waiting, you see,  for a chance to dance, listening to some obscure electronica. In the whole night I got up to dance maybe three times, what is this fascination with playing non tango music?

She was lucky with the next tanda it was the only milonga all night; just as well we were not waiting for a Vals, as I never heard a one.

I suppose I should not complain, it is not after all my milonga and I should be thankful we have anything, but it would be nice to have some tango music when I am going to what is advertised as a milonga.

While we sat watching the people move (with no relation to the music I might add) a couple arrived, both tall and elegant looking, she had long red hair and he a pony tail and closely cropped full set, they were dressed very formally, she in a dress and he in a suit, they looked like they would be great tango dancers. It was not just their attire however that I was judging their ability on; there was something about the way they moved cat-like that said they were tango dancers. They had a familiar look about them and I was sure that I had seen them at other venues, although I could not think where.

This venue is a good hour from my home and I had to be up at five the following morning, so fed up with the stream of constant pop, Gotan,and electronica, at ten, we decided to leave. As usual I had my shoes on and was ready to leave well before Viv was, and so I went to speak to the mystery lady standing by the bar. When asked why she was not dancing she replied “I will dance when they play some tango”. Her partner joined us and soon we were discussing the merits of various tango venues and the music that is played. “You should tell him” I was told “this is not my venue or my normal circle” I replied, so I was in no better position to voice my concerns than him. It is a worry however that if this trend continues tango will be lost altogether in this part of the world and it will degenerate to disco shuffle.

I never asked their names, but I did find out that they run a Milonga in Sheffield, only traditional music, they say it is a little bit of Buenos Aires in England. It is way off my normal route, but in the way of these things I have a feeling I will be there soon. It is a shame that all the new venues that appear within striking distance seem to have no understanding of what tango is about or any connection with Buenos Aires.

We discussed Buenos Aires as well and talked about the venues we go to. I was surprised that they danced in and enjoyed one of my favourite clubs Club Fulgor, it is after all not pura tango but a place where a very much older crowd can let their hair down.

We had stood talking for half an hour and by now I really should have been on my way so we said goodbye and as I left I noted that the tanda of Gotan that had been on when I left the floor was still playing. Half an hour of solid Gotan, how could anyone dance to this let alone know when to change partners?

On the long drive home we talked about our kindred spirits and we decided that we must have seen them in Buenos Aires, they have the striking good looks that you will always remember, though with my memory, never remember where. Although vaguely now,I am starting to recall seeing them, probably in Fulgor.

As a foot note; I worry that I am becoming one of those people who only go to dances to complain, so I will just add: While there are things I would change about the tango here in the UK, I would rather it goes on as it is than loose dance venues or people from the scene, because in the end, with more people it can only get stronger. I believe and hope that those who fail to see what tango is all about, if they carry on enjoying tango, will one day visit Buenos Aires and finally understand, and just maybe dancers will no longer be sold short.

On that note, this may well be my last post from the UK for some time. Buenos Aires, watch out The Finches are on their way back, Icelandic volcanoes permitting. Somebody tell Roberto in Fulgor to have my table ready.

Just after I wrote this I read this article http://londontango.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/dance-to-the-music/

I thought my readers may be  interested in yet more opinions on the art of tango dance music.


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In trouble again?

I wonder if I am in trouble again. As Sharon tells the women in the Monday class not to put weight onto the men while following with hands on the chests. I know the remark was aimed at someone, I just do not know if it was me or not.

Often when I give a bit of private tuition I ask the ladies to give me some resistance and will occasionally ask them to lean on me. I do make the point of course that it is for this time only and never to do this while in the main class, and certainly never when dancing.

 This is just a bit more of the conflicting advice that surrounds Tango. I like a bit of resistance, I have a need to know where the woman is. There are followers, good followers, who are very light, and while they respond well to my leads, I do not like to dance with them. I need to feel that there is a presence there; I like a small amount of weight.

Don’t get me wrong, a woman who hangs on my neck, or who I have to push around the room like some overloaded wheel barrow, is not a joy to dance with, but then I do not want to be chasing her either.

I have to take care; I do not run the classes. I never could. Running a big class takes a skill that I do not have, and besides I work shifts. I enjoy my one to ones with the beginners, but sometimes I can use techniques that simply would not work with a large class. I can say to a lady “lean on me” and when I fell that she has the feeling then I can return her to her axis, I can develop the feeling and know that she knows that this is not how we dance.

I sometimes get a lady who simply cannot get the cross; usually this is because the weigh goes back. I have used this trick of saying “lean on me” when the feeling is understood and they are back on their own axis it all becomes clear.

Trouble is of course that when someone else comes into the class and tries this, it does not work, often the leaders have not yet fully developed how to lead the cross and assume that it is the ladies fault.

Sharon is very tough on the class, and sometimes it is misunderstood, but we cannot have everyone teaching at the same time. A bit of humility is needed, as you dance around the room concentrate on your body, what you are doing wrong, not your partner. I am not saying ignore your partner, you must know where they are, you must respond to what they do or where they have their weight, but do not criticise or try to teach.

In the after class salon I dance with as many women as I can  and what I find most annoying is when they say “but I was told to put my foot here by…….” In the class it is Sharon who is teaching, women should respond to the mans body, not his voice.

We did more Vals in the intermediates, there was a shortage of women again, so the men had to put up with me getting very close and intimate. They never dared to tell me where to put my feet, often the lead was not quite right, so I was not necessarily in the right place, but the next time they got it right. As I have said before “I am not the best follower in the world” If they can do it with me then surely they can do it with women who are always women.

So my message is clear “women, go where you are led even if it feels wrong” and men “if the woman is not where you want her you be, it is most likely because you led her there”.

And finally, if someone directs you verbally on the dance floor, tell them to “shut up and dance”. (I did put it a bit more crudely when asked).

If you have any views on anything I have said, post a comment. I may or may not agree but open debate is always better than monologue. After all I can’t be right all the time, can I? Of course if you think I am you could tell me that as well, but I will only get more big headed.


Filed under milonga, Tango

Second Bangor Tea Dance

It had snowed all night, but it was not heavy enough to stop us. We had arranged to take Katerina with us, and I had joked to Viv that if she tried to cry off, she should tell her it is far worse in Siberia.

We had allowed plenty of time and as we travelled along the A55 we realised that we would be quite early, so against my instincts I tried to drive slowly, but we were still three quarters of an hour early outside Penrallt Baptist Church. We still had a parking place to find, but this would not take long.

As we turned the first corner we passed Sharon walking up, she had not yet arrived herself.

When we got in my first job, as always, is to make Viv a coffee (hang on, wasn’t it me doing the driving?)  Anyway, Sharon was in a state of stress and not ready for us. She must have snapped at me because she apologized for it, rather sweetly later. I honestly never noticed, it must be because I have lived all my life in families full of women. The thing is I know I am of little use at times like this, so I made the coffee and got out the way, and ate the sandwich Viv had made me for lunch.

All the usual Bangor crowd soon arrived, along of course with Anna and John, always great to see these two, their energy is what I think keeps Tango Bangor going, along with them they brought Leo, who sat there happily googooing.

When the class started there was the usual excess of women so Viv was let out holding the baby. I don’t know who looked the most happy Viv or Leo.

This did not last though, as the class struggled to do double time to a Vals beat (there are a lot of absolute beginners here) Leo got fed up with a substitute mother and decided he wanted the real thing back. This sort of ruined my first dance with Anna, but I know my place in this pecking order.

As usual after the class everyone stuffed themselves with cake, and it was hard to drag anyone away from all the lovely food to dance. It also makes it very hard for me, still struggling with my weight, though I admit to partaking of the odd crumb or two. Ok a big slab of chocolate cake and coated end of the chocolate Swiss roll. Somehow I always seem to drop a pound or two whenever I fail, so I am not too upset at my lack of discretion.

Soon enough we were all dancing, one or two of the first timers were a bit nervous as I took them on the floor, but I was gentle with them. I find it incredible here that people who have never danced before will stay and enjoy the social afterwards, and the men will actually ask the women to dance. There is hope out there with our student generation.

Bangor is unusual in the dance scene, in that as it is a University Town the crowd tends to be much younger than in say, Chester or Shrewsbury. Although they are, or maybe because they are younger they are full of enthusiasm and lacking any inhibitions. The fact that Viv and I are so much older seems to worry them not at all.

A great time was had by all and I am saddened to see that I must work the next one on 6th March, it was a good run but as any shift worker will tell you, you grab these things when you can.

On our drive home I was able at last to unleash the horses, that is, until the snow again pulled the traffic into another disorderly queue, with my wipers battling against the rising spray.

We had to get home you see, because we were out again at Ewloe social club that evening, for the Finches the dancing never ends.

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