My van made it to site without incident. Which was nice, but somewhat unexpected. I found the site easily enough (being one of the few who didn't miss the turning) and within a few minutes of getting out of my car I was bumping into old friends. Hurrah! A quick traipse across the mud later (and a chat or two) and I'd picked up a registration pack and worked out where I was staying for the week. J turned up a little later, and we dined in style at Montes. Bangers and mash with awesome gravy. Much tea was drunk, some exploring was done, little of note happened. There was apparently a pub quiz, but we couldn't hear any of the questions.
Woke up late, happy that the van had kept us warm all night (I knew all that insulation was worth putting in) Most of the day was spent pottering around site, sitting in the bar drinking tea or talking to people while watching others do all that enthusiastic juggling stuff. Team Shreddie Crunch put on a good show in the evening, although the tent was too big making the audience seem smaller and further away than it was really. A pity, and something which would plague all shows in the tent during the week. We were a bit chilly at this point, so didn't stick around for the Youth Cabaret. J didn't fancy the dinner at Montes, so I cooked pasta. I think I saw about 3 acts worth of renegade, the most memorable of which was a competition to balance as many chairs as you can on your face.
Another cosy night followed by a slow rise. Have I mentioned the showers yet? They were lovely. Powerful, hot, and about as clean as you can expect from a site with 600 people on it. I needed some cash, so we wandered into Pickering to find a bank. Pickering is lovely, and has a very nice indoor fleamarket, but I didn't buy anything. The "Yorkshire Fayre" was a nice idea, but was a little underwhelming (decidedly light on bunting!) The morris dancing was great - especially Guy Heathcote joining the band with his accordion. In typical Guy style, he was, of course, dressed as a walrus.
BYJOTY was great as ever, and had a number of surprisingly polished actual acts.
The ceilidh in the evening was entertaining as ever (especially watching Tiff getting all enthusiastic with his fiddle) and the band gave the bar tent a good atmosphere for the rest of the evening. I didn't get as far as renegade. We ate at Montes again, I think that was the night of the venison. Nyom. J didn't fancy a bowl of Bambi - so had the veggie pie, which was so nice I pinched the recipe.
We decided we couldn't possibly go that close to York without popping in to the National Railway Museum, so spent the afternoon looking at trains. It were grand. The fire show was cancelled, and I've had more than enough circus school shows to be bothered with another one so we didn't go to that. Somehow we missed the open stage as well, which is a shame as it was probably quite good. I spent an entertaining hour flicking through Mikeys collection of old juggling books, and had a lot of fun pointing at pictures of big tricks for Josh and Lewis. Notes were taken.
Dinner was cooked back at the van, because J didn't fancy Montes veggie option (which meant I missed out on the braised beef) We topped the evening off with The Old School panel show - which was very entertaining and really well attended. Friday truly was a day for oldies.
Having filled the car with jugglers we decided to skip the games and spend the day at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Which was awesome! Loads of big steam trains (we saw at least 3 steam and 1 diesel in use) and spent a happy couple of hours poking about their engine sheds. I took loads of photos... proper big geek day out. After that, we headed straight out to Scarborough for the show - which was quite possibly the best BJC show I've seen in a long time. To be fair, it has been a long time since my last one, but we're talking a longer time than that. It was on a par with York 2000, and that had Anthony Gatto in it. Dinner was pizza and chips at Montes.
Mostly a day of clearing up, saying goobyes, and Wes & Patrick making an hour seem like 10 minutes. Then a rather long drive back, and an enormous amount of unpacking.
I can't be bothered to proof read the above, so I'm just going to declare any mistakes as being intentional. Well done at home if you spot them all.
Just got home. Physically & emotionally exhausted. I met many wonderful new people & had more fun than I could cope with. I cannot believe some of the things I've done this week.
Be warned the notes alone that I took for this year's convention are longer than some of my past reviews! For now though: I absolutely love jugglers.
I've already written a review on Facebook but this is the more comprehensive review for those who have time to read without being interrupted by notifications, messages etc.
Arrived about 1pm expecting to just dump the caravan and go off site for a few hours but as we were told to go ahead and register we did that and set up the caravan and by that time we could officially be there. We thus headed into the hall and spent a couple of hours practicing. As everyone else was still arriving and setting up this was one of those times when there were no interruptions and we actually all made progress. Tracey and I worked on our back to back stuff when we weren't being interrupted by Lucy needing help to learn how to unicycle. The latter situation was a bit of a theme for the convention as our daughter spent so much time practicing she was making monumental progress each day and from being able to ride less than 2m on Tuesday on Sunday she was able to circle the hall. After a hot meal, it was back to the hall to juggle more and chat with friends. I practiced the tricks I was planning to teach in my workshop and managed to pick up a couple of other ideas from Mike from Brighton (who I need to contact at some point about being in #MKJC4 but don't have his details). An early night was spent enjoying the warmth of the caravan heater.
Up nice and early. Practiced tricks for my workshop, which started at 11am and was surprisingly well attended. Perhaps fairly straight forward 3 ball tricks are more popular than the obscure skills I normally teach in workshops. Before and after my workshop I had chats with Tiff who is now doing some very nice Brunn style tricks with balances and ring spinning. Before finding my family again I ran into Ian Mwara and volunteered to compere the Open Stage as I had seen on Facebook that he was still looking for a compere. Got back to find that the kids were all unicycling and Tracey had really enjoyed the trapeze workshop (thanks Simon and Samara). Spent most of the rest of the day chatting with friends and occasionally being interrupted by practice. More practice occurred after our evening meal as the hall practically emptied for Team Shreddie Crunch and we could practice 7 club passing without anyone laughing at how bad it is nowadays. Later on I saw the Youth Cabaret which despite being badly supported both by the audience and the number of acts was still good fun. The comperes were pretty spectacular for being 12 & 13 and the street show style club routine by Rosie and Charles was well worth watching. Perhaps if the show had been earlier in the day it would have been bigger and better.
In the morning I went to the Steve Ragatz workshop on street performing which was good, not telling me anything I didn't already know but putting everything concisely and making me think about what I do and whether I should change anything. I emerged to find only one of my family was visible. I spent the next 90 minutes or so searching for my middle child, eventually finding my 9yo where else but in the beer tent. Because of this I missed Paul Tann's magic workshop which was a real shame.Spent quite a while buying props including 6 diabolos between the family. David then spent most of the rest of the day learning 2 diabolos using mine so I couldn't try mine out myself. Attended BYJOTY and thought it was a shame that there were only 7 acts. Had real difficulties choosing between Dave Leahy and Charles but went for the one I hadn't already booked for MKJC, guess what I sorted out later.
Friday was show day. Starting with the best combined circus space/circomedia show I've seen. Not much in the way of pretentious rubbish and some very good performances. The two person hat routine was something special but couldn't compare with the ninja routine which was the funniest act I've seen since the last time I saw Steve Rawlings. The Open Stage was a great show only being brought down by the choice of compere. The most nerve wracking bits of which were Sam Goodburn's act which was put together about 30 minutes before the show as Sam had lost his voice and which had dragged on a lot in rehearsal and also Simon & Samara the adagio act who had been shaking from the cold in their tech run then telling me about a minute before they were on that their first trick had killed someone working for cirque de soleil a few years before (of course I had to mention this to the audience). After clearing away from that it was off to the Old Skool session which was just as much fun as last year and needs to keep going. The rest of the night was talking, juggling and playing games. About 6am I did my best run of 5 clubs this year and about 7am I was talking to Jak about how the convention was going and learning at that point they had a shortfall of over £10k. Continued juggling until lunchtime and about 2pm got an hours sleep.
Was woken in time to get ready for coach trip to Scarborough. My wife is very organised and we had exchanged tesco vouchers so we could eat cheaply at ASK in Scarborough. I had a very nice calzone and dessert enjoyed in the very pleasant company of my family and the Kelsalls (friends through meeting at BJCs each year and having children of roughly the same age). Meal finished we headed to the show venue and proceeded to watch one of the better public shows. Personally I enjoyed Eugenius Neil and Steven Ragatz the most but none of the acts were bad and Loz did a great job compering. The night was another long one and I caught some of the renegade, including seeing a security guard on stage for the right reasons. Various games later and I eventually went to bed.
I was woken by the sound of my awning bashing against the roof of the caravan and spent the next hour or so collecting stuff that had been blown away and getting the bits of the awning off of the caravan and into a sensible pile, thus missing the kids renegade and the business meeting. Fortunately the internet and other people have let me know what happened at both. Saying goodbye to everybody took a while but we left just before 4pm leaving behind one of the best conventions I've been to.
Another great BJC. I was saddened to hear that the convention has made a £5k loss. This is a shame as I don't think that it truly reflects the enjoyment had be all that were in attendance.
Highs were the bar tent on Thursday night. Had a great time helping with the PA for the ceilidh and then The Rough And Ready Boys, following that playing guitar and drunkenly playing through some songs with Mr Washboard (aka Lawrence Marshall) and then trying to ride a penny farthing at 4.30am was great fun. I think it would be a great idea to have more live music at the BJC but a ballance would have to be struck between having live music and having the bar as a socialising space. I definatly wouldn't want a band roaring away when I'm catching up with old friends in the bar on the first night.
lows: Missing the show and the temperature.
crush: Tiff as always. He did a great job comparing the show and an even greater job playing Orange Blossom Special with The Rough And Ready Boys. Also great to see Luke G, Ewan, Ron and both Martins again.
Bane: This is going to sound strange but the big top was too big. Prehaps it was just that I only saw the TSC show. For the number of people who came to the show a smaller big top would have meant the audience would have been closer to the stage, the atmosphear would have been better and it may have been easier to heat. I don't remember the big top being quite so humangous at other conventions.
Goal: Play some swing jazz with other guitarist. check. Found a man who knew far more Django Reinhart songs than I, and had a great time playing with Ben Randal and teaching him Bernie's Tune.
Suprise: The number of ring jugglers present in the hall, despite the cripling cold. I remember back in the days when I was running seven rings I was often the only person doing this prop. Great to see patrick showing the world what they are capable of in more skilled hands.
Re: bigger big top.
As I understand it (although I was not part of the organising team so don't take this as absolute) one of the gripes from previous conventions has been not being able to get in to the shows, so this year's team took the decision to get a bigger big top to ensure everyone was able to see the shows. Unfortunately they ended up with fewer attendees than previous years so in hindsight they could have gone with a smaller big top but they're not psychic and were just trying to make it a better convention for everyone.
I appreciated always getting a seat but it was a tad chilly in there!
I'm interested to see the comments about lack of atmosphere in there. It didn't seem so bad to me, but then I guess I tended to not be very far back. I thought it was brilliant to be able to go to BYJOTY and to the open stage show without any space limitations to worry about. Didn't make it to any renegades, but did wonder how that might work!
I had a lot of discussion with various people about the size of the big top, and while it probably was too big for the number of people who turned up, it was probably appropriately sized based on the break even number they were working to.
One possible solution which I thought about, but didn't get as far as implementing (yes, I'm aware of how monumentally unhelpful that is) would have been to move the stage forward into the area which was (eventually) occupied by the extra seating. The tent and seating were clearly designed for a circus "ring" to be in that area, and putting the stage as far back as it was did make it a little far from the ranked seating.
So, if anyone has a similar problem in future - that may be an option to consider, and yes - I promise that if I spot a solution like that in future I'll volunteer to make it happen ;)
I was saddened to hear that the convention has made a £5k loss
I believe there are still t-shirts & hoodies left, plus the full DVD set will be well worth the purchase.
Positive: The convention has made a smaller loss than originally thought, thanks to the generosity & support of the lovely juggling community :)
Negative: They are still making a £3,100 loss :(
Support: If you haven't already bought a #bjc2013 hoodie or t-shirt you can still do so! To steal an existing marketing slogan "Every little helps" and bit by bit the team will get that deficit down to £0.
The final re-order of merchandise will be made on Wednesday, so if you want any merchandise say so now or you'll only be able to get what was left over (some t-shirts, lots of ladies t-shirts, 3 small blue hoodies and some grey hoodies).
Hoodies are £25 / t-shirts are £15.
You can either email email@example.com or tweet @bjc2013 or message Sam/Claire/me on Facebook. You'll be given the details for making a bank transfer and will magically receive your merchandise by jugglermail (free) or post (£4 per item).
Finally got both vehicles back to Hulver farm(home of Bungay Balls Up)this afternoon.Sheep still on the field so no sign of buttercups yet.
Another great BJC. This was my 4th as a caterer and the most organised I've been as I spent 4 long days cooking before leaving Suffolk.
I must start by saying what a coup it was for the organisers to arrange the death of Margaret Thatcher the day before it started thus ensuring that everyone arrived in great spirits. Not sure how the 2014 team(who-ever they turn out to be)are going to top that,maybe they could get Piers Morgan to choke on his own words or Gary Glitter to be buggered to death by his cellmate.
I took a bit of a risk this year providing fairly exotic dishes such as game pie and venison casserole at higher than normal prices. I needn't have worried as I sold out of the main meats every night. There were a few comments about eating Bambi but I think eating a wild animal which has been culled(because of the damage they do to young saplings and crops)is far preferable to intensively farmed livestock such as chickens or pigs. As a vegetarian myself I am much happier cooking wild and organic beasts.
I was disappointed to hear that the convention failed to break even. It must be time for people to accept that they will have to pay a little extra to keep this wonderful institution going. One of my crew(J)spent a couple of nights camping in the nearby campsite because of his dog.He was paying 16 quid a night which works out roughly the same as the convention however the campsite were not able to provide a star studded public show or a big top with shows and renegades every night.An extra pound a day would have been enough to enable the convention to break even and ten pounds extra for the week would have created a surplus to carry forward.Also I have trouble justifying the cost of hiring a theater and paying for coaches to Scarborough when there was a perfectly good big top on-site already paid for but I understand this is a thorny subject best left to those who are better informed about the traditions of the BJC than I am.
Finally I would like to give a big thank you to the organising team for all their hard work.I'm sure it must have been very stressful dealing with an unfinished venue and a shortfall in income.
Also thank you to all my loyal customers and many new people who came to eat at Montegriffo's. I made enough money to payback most of the 2000 quid it cost me to get the kitchen through its MOT this year.
I'm looking forward to chilling out at Bungay next month with many of you.
Some BYJOTY thoughts:
I had a fun and interesting experience being a BYJOTY judge. It was nice to be asked (Thanks Ieuan!), and my fellow judges all seemed like sensible fellows, so I was looking forward to seeing what we would all think. I'd heard there were 9 acts booked pre-convention, and were searching for more. A bit of a shock then to read in the programme that there were 13 acts. Another shock to find out there were actually only 7! Well, that would probably make for an easier time of judging things...
Having seen all the acts, it was safe to say that no-one disgraced themselves, but that some had obviously done better than others. The first thing the judges agreed on was who their favourite was. Of the others, 2 were sadly just too droppy to be in contention for any awards from us, but the other 4 were all in the mix. If you had asked each of us for our top 3, I not sure that any of us would have offered up the final result as our exact choice, but in the end, I think we were all happy with how it came out. The judging experience was very interesting. I went in with a certain opinion about each act, but then after listening to the other judges' thoughts, I was swayed in various directions. Sometimes they pointed out things I'd missed, and vice versa. Refering back to the notes I had taken during the act also sometimes surprised me. ("Oh, he did that and that, I hadn't realised...")
Our 2 biggest talking points were on whether there should be a gold or not, and on Charles' routine. Re gold, it eventually turned out that those who were Pro had stronger feelings than those who were Anti, so it was a very close call, but Pro just swung it. We all thought that Charles had put together a really good routine, we just varied on our interpretations of it, and how well we felt it had "worked", both in itself and as a silent routine. He was perhaps the unluckiest of the contestants, as he missed out very narrowly on winning the BYJOTY, and in other years where multiple awards were given, he would most likely have got a Silver.
I had chats of varying lengths afterwards with Max, Dave, Alex and Charles, all of whom seemed to have enjoyed the experience of performing in the competition. I hope the others did too.
Full results are at
Subscribe to this forum via RSS
1 article per branch
1 article per post