Sunday, 8 July 2012

Family Street Cabaret Heaven

Three exciting things happened this weekend. They were (in no particular order): the Cleckheaton Folk Festival, the Wimbledon Finals and (cue fanfare) the climax of this year’s Hebden Bridge Arts Festival (HBAF). Despite being tempted by the other two events, I decided to enjoy the last day of the HBAF and, this time, I brought my family with me.

We arrived before 12, found a parking spot and walked up to the Marina. My husband, B (a keen astronomer and science boffin) wanted to try the Astronauts’ Caravan, although we decided that R was probably a bit too young for it (R will be two next month and we never know how she’s going to be with these things – and I certainly didn’t want to subject the other ‘passengers’ to one of her meltdowns within such a confined space!) So B paid his pound and hopped aboard. It was a clever concept as the ‘passengers’ don’t actually move – they stay static while the caravan revolves around them. It really plays tricks with the mind and when B came out he described it as: “Disconcerting but enjoyable.”

We popped over to the tourist office to find out what was going on and where (they were very helpful and friendly) and then headed into the centre to look for a toddler-friendly cafĂ©. We settled on a place called ‘Innovation’ which was tucked behind a gift shop, just off St. George’s Square. Again, I found the staff helpful and friendly and the place clean and bright. They had items on the menu to suit all of us (giving them a BIG gold star in my book) and the food was tasty and good value for money.

After lunch B decided to buy a harmonica (so that he could sit on the step outside our house and ‘play the blues’, apparently) and we made our way to St. George’s Square where the MC Unofficial Medal Ceremony Band were getting ready to play their first set of the day. The three men, dressed in mock uniforms, warmed up the audience with some banter before throwing themselves into an upbeat skiffle rendition of ‘I Used to Love Her’ by The Rolling Stones. The band played several sets, featuring covers of songs from The Clash to Johnny Cash. The set went down well with R, who happily clapped and danced along to all of them.

In between songs, the bands awarded medals to members of the audience for having the ‘most interesting T-shirt’, ‘the best hair’ or the ‘freshest ice lolly’. When not playing or giving out medals, the multi-talented musicians took it in turns to entertain the audience with comedy, magic tricks, juggling, balloon modelling and unicycling (while juggling swords!) All their acts were funny and involved the crowd: both adults and children (at one point three audience members were throwing juggling clubs at one of them).

One of the highlights was the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ trick, where a (brave) woman from the audience had to ‘sleep’ (on a board balanced on the backs of two chairs) while her ‘prince’ fought and won a duel against a baddie, using balloon swords, and finally woke her with a kiss. The actual trick involved removing one of the chairs (without her crashing to the ground, which thankfully she didn’t!) but it was the high comedy factor that made it so memorable.

The forecast had been mixed, so we were expecting showers, but the weather stayed fine. As we took a stroll along the streets, we soaked up the happy, relaxed atmosphere around us; it was the perfect tonic after such a hectic and tiring week – I wish we could do this every weekend and can’t wait to do it again next year!


  1. Sounds like a lovely day out and lucky you no rain for a few hours either! We seem to have much in common, a love of dancing, yoga, reading, tea drinking and of course writing! I write for children so pop by my blog anytime it's always good to meet someone new.

  2. Thanks Suzanne :) It was a lovely day out. Yes it sounds like we have a lot in common. I look forward to reading your blog!