November 11th, 2009

Wanaka tree

Step right this way.

This is the second post about North Petherton Carnival and the photos are from, predictably, the second half of the procession.

As the evening wore on it became wetter and wetter. There were moments where it was lashing around so much that I had to put my camera away and just watch the brave souls on the carts as they went past. Without my camera in hand I felt slightly lost and, strangely, that I was letting the people putting on the show down by not recording it. So, every now and then, I would sneak it out of my bag, try to shield the lens from the worst of the rain and click away as best I could.

About two and three quarter hours after it had begun, the last float was passing us and we walked along beside it back to where we had parked in the centre of the village. It almost felt like we were part of the event as we walked between the carts and the crowd. Apart from the weather, which was probably not so bad for a November evening in the south-west of England, it had been a spectacular, bright and colourful evening. My cousins had thoroughly enjoyed themselves, dancing to the music as the floats passed by, wondering at the creativity and craftsmanship and the sheer tenacity and dedication of the people involved. In the car on the way home the conversation was all about all those things and more, but always centred around the spectacle we had just seen. I think that's the mark of a true event.

For the members of the carnival clubs, the end of this year's parade circuit will see the start of planning for next year. There will be fund-raising events, the carts will be stripped and rebuilt, new costumes will be designed and made, routines will be learnt and honed and it will all happen again, just as it has for the past 404 years. I'm not a great one for tradition, but this is one I whole-heartedly approve of; something we in the south-west of England seem to do better than anyone else. Sends a little tingle up the spine.

A common theme, throughout the years, is Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. I have to say that I have a bit of an affinity with this on several levels, it's one of my favourite books and always has been and, of course, I have a wonderful little special friend in Saint Petersburg who is named after the title character.


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