November 10th, 2009

Wanaka tree

Roll up, roll up for the greatest show on earth

Again I want to start with a huge apology. I'm still not around much and I feel bad about that. There are big problems with the website project I'm working on, yet we are still careering towards a 'go-live' date of 23 November. I don't think we will make it and I hope good sense prevails and the powers that be understand that there's no point launching a site that isn't ready and that it would be better to hold off for a while until it is. It's all very frustrating and, worse still, keeping me from my friends! Please bear with me until things can get back to normal (though I'm beginning to wonder just what normal is these days!)

Anyway, on to the photos. I think I ought to give you a bit of background into what these are all about. In Somerset there is a tradition at this time of year. It brings a bit of colour and light into these early winter nights. The tradition is 'carnival'. It's not exactly Rio, or even Notting Hill, but it is the biggest and best of its kind in the world and it happens right here every year for free. These illuminated night-time parades traditionally co-incide with the season of Guy Fawkes and bonfires, fireworks and squibbing.

This wikipedia page explains it all much better than I ever could.

Last Saturday was North Petherton Carnival, and as my favourite cousins were staying for the week-end I decided to take them along to see it. We had to arrive fairly early because all roads into the village close at just after five o'clock, though I was in the very lucky position of having a friend's drive to park in and, therefore, somewhere warm to stay until close to the time the parade began at seven. We walked to near the start of the parade route in time to get a good spot - for me that was somewhere with a bit of a bank behind so that I could get a little higher to take photos during the, almost, three hours of the procession.

The floats, known locally as carts, are often thirty metres long with thousands of light bulbs illuminating them. For that to happen they have to tow generators which are usually built into the design in some way. There is a lot of secrecy surrounding what theme each club is going to represent in the parade and these themes vary considerably. Big clubs with lots of money and expertise will have really grand, elaborate carts with moving parts and incredible artwork, others will do the best they can with the resources they have. Some will perform dance routines during the procession and others will be perfectly still in dramatic tableaux poses. All have wonderfully loud music. This year the themes were as varied as ever, wizards, pirates, ice queens, Robin Hood, highwaymen, comic interpretations of James Bond, local culture, Glastonbury Festival, and just about anything else you can think of. Perhaps I should let the pictures do the talking.

The start of the procession with the first float coming towards us up the hill.

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Part two will follow in a day or so, or perhaps sooner if I can get my act together for once.