Dark Gathering 2019 – Part One

There is an ancient Chinese curse which goes: “May you live in interesting times.”  There have been times this past year when I have wondered whether I had unknowingly offended someone of oriental persuasion when it came to the Dark Gathering!  There has also been the odd occasion when I wondered whether it was actually going to happen or not, especially when it came to wrangling with the dead hand of bureaucracy.  Indeed as the date of this year’s Dark Gathering approached there was a last minute flurry of obstacles, cancellations and complications – not to mention wet weather that seemed to take on biblical proportions!

Undaunted we soldiered on…

On the day, we had to put out a disclaimer on the website and social media that there was a police warning of a yellow flood alert on some of the roads approaching Boscastle and for folks to be aware of this.

Despite the heavy rain there was full attendance to both storytelling sessions run by Lisa Schneidau.  By all accounts everyone loved the experience – well done Lisa!  I wished I could have been there.  🙂

Then 40 minutes before we were due to start the afternoon’s proceedings, the torrential rain stopped – for the next 36 hours!  😀

Now, I could fall back on the cliched ‘As if by magic’ but that’s a bit hackneyed now – this was bordering on the miraculous.  Well Done to all those witches who were spinning their weather magic for the Dark Gathering!  Given the sheer amount of rainfall over the last 6 weeks, I still can’t quite believe we got away with yet another dry Gathering.

So the sixth Dark Gathering began with gusto with Steve Podger, our enduring MC, introducing the wonderful Beltane Border Morris, who have over the years become the backbone to the Dark Gathering.

Next were the fun-loving and ever ebullient Wreckers Morris from North Cornwall.

What came next was a bit of a gamble as far as I was concerned.  Earlier in the summer I learnt that regrettably Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris were unable to attend after all, and I was left to search for a replacement.  Quite by chance I happened upon Huginn & Muninn.  They were certainly different, which was what I was after as I do like to inject a little of the unknown and edgy into the proceedings.  So it came to pass that the wild and wacky Huginn & Muninn made their eccentric debut at the Dark Gathering.

 

Here is a prime example of how bizarre Huginn & Muninn can be:

Whilst all this frivolity was happening down at the harbour, way, way up the hill at the Napoleon Inn an ancient custom was being enacted by Cwmni Gwerin Pontypwl and Bagas Werin Mari Lwyd.  A Welsh/English pwnco was performed plus a dance performance with songs for the delight of the onlookers.

Following this in response to a special request, Mari Afon Lwyd (or Fflosi as she is affectionately known) bestowed blessings upon the household of Ivy Cottage.  In return the Mari Lwyd party received thanks and copious libations.  🙂

Then it was off down the hill to the wondrously warm welcome from the Wellington Hotel who laid on lavish libations for our merry band of revellers.  Cwmni Gwerin had to perform outside the Museum at 4 pm, so as they left Bagas Werin were joined by a new Mari Lwyd called Mari Sol.

Everyone continued to entertain wherever they visited including the Cobweb Inn.  Meanwhile Cwmni Gwerin Pontypwl were bringing Welsh dancing to the audience at the harbour.

Following their break, all the Morris sides completed their afternoon’s entertainment with pizazz and vigour – in fact, it was quite difficult to persuade them to stop!

However, the light was fading fast and it was time to prepare for the Lantern Procession – and for whatever the evening had in store for us all…

Besides which Penkevyll was getting very restless in her stable and was eager to met her bone sisters, the Mari Lwyds!

 

 

 

 

Countdown to the Dark Gathering 2019

 

To say that the past year as the organiser of the Dark Gathering has been challenging would be the understatement of the year!  Sometimes an event can prove to be so popular it can become the victim of it’s own success, and now that the Gathering regularly attracts many hundreds of people it has also brought upon itself the scrutiny of the red tape brigade.  I personally have been on a very steep learning curve including learning new jargon, PLI, RA, TEN not to mention H&S!  Thankfully I have had the help of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic’s Events Manager who has diligently steered me through the minefield of licenses, permissions and insurances required by various departments and organisations.  He has been a godsend.  🙂

What this preamble is leading to is to inform you that there may well be a few changes to the way we run things from this year onwards.  There may be restrictions to the amount of people permitted around the harbour area to view the proceedings.  There are however no such restrictions in the surrounding areas providing there remains free access to public thoroughfares and footpaths.  A lot depends on the day regarding numbers of attendees how much crowd control will be implemented.  I would ask that folk co-operate with the marshals at the event, all of whom are volunteers, and move round if requested to do so.

The other main change which is in accordance with Health and Safety regulations which we have to comply with is that no naked flames are permitted in the Lantern Procession but that torchlight be restricted to LED lights instead.  There are many on the market nowadays that are very reminiscent of candlelight.  Once again during the Procession please comply with any instruction from any marshal or the Procession Leader who will be a member of Beltane Border Morris.

Right.  That’s the officious bit out of the way!  There have been some changes in line-up so there will be a few surprises for folks over the weekend and definitely on the day itself.  It’s been a bit wild and wacky and probably will remain so for the duration!  😉

The Pedlar will be out in full force selling her wares with some new merchandise this year to delight you with.  Also there will be a collection bucket going around which I hope you will give generously to.  Insurances and licenses don’t come cheap and we have always endeavoured to keep the Dark Gathering free and hope to keep it that way, so anything donated goes straight into the Dark Gathering account in order to keep it well funded and efficient.

So here we are with just under a week to go and the excitement is palpable.  I feel the dark magic rising to welcome the Gathering and the Old Ones stirring to respond to the call of the Ancestors.  It just falls to me to say ‘Expect the Unexpected this Hallowtide’ and travel safe.  See you soon!  😀

 

Parking information at the Dark Gathering

There have been some significant changes in parking regulations at Boscastle due to local council decisions.  Henceforth there will no longer be a facility for overnight parking in the main car park.    Any folk who decide to flout this ruling face the very real risk of a parking fine.

So, the small village of camper vans that used to emerge on the Friday night of the Dark Gathering, only to slowly disappear on the Sunday, alas is now a thing of the past in this particular car park.

There will be a field set aside for Performers and Crew but there will be no facilities available.  I will be informing people of where this site is as soon as it is confirmed by the local farmer.  Unfortunately this option is not available to members of the public – however as a result of no overnight camping there will be more parking lots available in the main car park.   Please note – Park & Ride is not available this year.

There are some excellent camping facilities available close to Boscastle for those who wish to use them.  Here are a few:

Trebyla Farm Caravan and Camping Site

Lower Pennycrocker Camping Site

Trewethett Farm Caravan Site

There will be more updates in the weeks to come about further logistical developments for the Dark Gathering.  Please watch this space.

Six weeks and counting!  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Change to Dark Gathering Line Up

We live in interesting times and the Dark Gathering has not been immune to these fluctuating events.  Sadly I have to announce that our Guest Side, Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris have reluctantly had to cancel their appearance this year due to unforeseen circumstances.  We were very disappointed by this and we hope that Wild Hunt will be able to appear at a Gathering at some point in the future.

Needless to say this caused some avid searching around for a replacement side and we found and decided upon an intriguing act – Huginn and Muninn.

They have been described as ‘Ragnarock ‘n Roll’ and are advertised as ‘a contemporary surrealist two person Border Morris side.  They dance tales of Huginn and Muninn’s adventures from the pantheon of Norse myths, ably kept in check by the music of Odin himself.’  We are hoping that everyone will be well entertained by such an unusual Bedlam Border Morris side!

Only 13 weeks to go until the next Dark Gathering!

Line Up for Dark Gathering 2019

 

The sixth annual Dark Gathering has yet again an exciting line-up with something, hopefully, for everyone.  So it’s time to give a bit more detail and introduce the performers to you.

The day will kick off with spooky tales from  Lisa Schneidau who is an experienced storyteller and environmentalist from Dartmoor.  She will bring together her love of nature and the Land with a magical flair that I’m sure will enchant all who attend the session.

Lisa Schneidau

Here are the details:

Wise Women and Witches
Stories from the Isles of Britain

The venue will be the library at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.  Given the rarity of some of the books, there is an absolute ban on any food and drink being brought into the library with no browsing of books permitted on this occasion.

There will be two shows, starting at 12 noon (running time 45 minutes).  Suitable for ages 7+.  All children should be accompanied and supervised by an adult.  Places are limited, booking is advised – contact  Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.  Adults £5.00, Children £3.00

50% of the proceeds are being donated to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, and the Dark Gathering.

Incidentally, later in the day you will also see Lisa again in a slightly different guise – as a Beltane Morris dancer!

Everyone will be delighted to hear that Beltane Border Morris will once again be headlining our afternoon’s entertainment.  They are such a vital and powerful component to our Dark Gathering, and we are always eager to see them again.  There’s always more than a whiff of wild Dartmoor and the eldritch about the Beltane tribe…

Beltane Border Morris

This year we have the welcome return of Wrecker’s Border Morris.  They are our fun-loving local Cornish side who inject a little bit of benign crazy (or mazey if you’re Cornish) energy into the proceedings.

Wreckers Border Morris

Finally our Guest Side this year is the dark and mysterious Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris  that haunt the wilds of Surrey.  This is an experienced masked Border side that have been performing for 28 years.  I am confident that Wild Hunt will bring their very own brand of the Otherworld with them to the Dark Gathering.

Wild Hunt Bedlam Morris

During the afternoon break in dancing this year there is to be, Devonbird.  This Devon based folk band are very much connected to the Land, together with it’s folklore and magic – this is reflected in their music.

Devonbird

Finally there will be an unforgettable experience when we have the performance of Plymouth’s one and only Stone Soup.  This is a duo of theatrical storyteller poets but this is not your average brace of bards as you will see!  😉

Stone Soup

Here’s a Stop Press statement from Stone Soup just received:

The Dashing Dynamic Duo that is Nik (Londoner) & David (Dubliner), combined collectively in the guise of their Stone Soup alter-ego, shall be bringing their Magniloquent Mayhemic Mix of Storytelling & Music to this fantastic event. Expect the Unexpected!!!

As well as our new performers all the usual suspects will be gathering to keep alive this community event at Hallowtide.  Also the all-singing, all-dancing Cwmni Gwerin Pontypool are returning again this year.  Who would have thought that such a quaint looking dance troupe could end up being so naughty!  They have promised to keep their Mari Fflosi in check this time and not let her gallop off and cause mayhem!  🙂

 

So,  we will once again have an action packed and exciting line-up this year, with some new faces which I’m sure will receive the customary warm Cornish welcome.  I will announce any updates as and when they occur on this website. Remember to book accommodation early to avoid disappointment.

Have a great summer and I’ll see you all at Summer’s End when we celebrate the All Hallows Gathering in Boscastle. 🙂

Reminder: Each year we have a Guest Side visiting the All Hallows Gathering. We choose from a list of Morris teams who have applied to come. If your side is interested in performing at Boscastle to help us celebrate this special festival at the Darkening of the year, then contact the event organiser via this website.

I have to inform you that I have just received an announcement to the effect that, a denizen from the Otherworld will be making a visitation to the Dark Gathering. So keep your eyes and ears open for a surprise visit. All will be revealed at the appropriate time and place…