The 20th Bungay Balls Up – Review
According to the website, “Bungay Balls Up is a laid back juggling convention based on a small, traditionally run farm in the heart of the rural Suffolk countryside.“
I went on a mission to discover the truth of the matter once and for all.
SPOILER: It’s True.
Saturday – Travel
I made steady progress across the country towards Bungay, suffering only slightly in the roadworks around Cambridge. I did the traditional “Oh dear, that was my junction” thing where I then go right around the next roundabout and try again. I dislike the A14.
I grew hungry when I reached Bury St Edmunds and decided to stop and explore the town. The local council is very keen on parking enforcement and disk zoning so I parked quite a way outside of town and walked in (I resent paying for car parking under most circumstances). Quite by chance I was able to walk through the Abbey Gardens towards the town centre and was delighted at their size and presentation. Lots of the old abbey walls were standing and many people were out enjoying the sunshine and taking a stroll. As I was heading across the park, I heard someone on a microphone, and as I walked closer it became clear that two jugglers were in the midst of their club passing street show. I recognised many of the lines and hurried towards the sound, delighted that I would be able to see Charlie and Haggis performing their legendary street show whilst stopping for lunch on my way to Bungay Convention. I rounded the corner and saw a large crowd watching two jugglers I didn’t recognise performing a very similar routine. I watched for a while and they were pretty good (the crowd was enjoying it very much) but I had psyched myself up for H&C so was a little disappointed.
The town was interesting. There would be big crowds in one area, then nobody, then you would come to another market square and it would be full of people again. The market was thriving and there were a lot of street food stores. I bought some good quality expensive ear plugs in Boots and a Goan Coconut Curry from one of the stalls for my lunch. I returned to the park and ate my lunch whilst watching another street show (wasn’t very good). I quite liked Bury St Edmunds and would call in again if I was hungry.
It was another hour’s drive before I got close to the convention site. It felt much longer. I found that, because the county is very flat and the roads lined with high hedgerows interspersed with either yellow or green fields, it very hard to navigate. It didn’t feel like I was making any progress but then I spotted a BBU sign by the side of the road marking my way.
I doubted the sign when I didn’t see another for what felt like a few miles, but no, they led me right to the driveway of the farm. As I drew up to the carpark I could see a large tent set up next to a Buttercup field and knew I was in the right place. I met Jak and Robin as I entered the field and was given the lowdown on the best place to camp. I walked up through the campsite and met Andy, Sandra, Jason and Simeon and friends enjoying some champagne in the sun. I promptly drove through their camp to get to the far corner of the site, where I had been reliably informed it would remain shady for the longest time come the morning.
I greeted my neighbours, Kevin and The God Emperor, and learnt how to put up my tent (it has been a long time), I was also given a tour of Simeon’s blackout tent and was duly impressed with how dark it was inside.
Exploring the Site
I grabbed all my props and wandered through the campsite to the main tent. On the way I passed water points, a washing up point, lots of composting toilets, and what looked like a cattle truck and horsebox for showers and a sauna respectively. There were also some chemical loos and other toilets, all clearly and carefully labelled to avoid confusion about what to do where and who was allowed to do it…
The main juggling space was large and carpeted with an area filled with armchairs and sofas and a table tennis table set up at the other end. The apex of the tent allowed for good solid triples and there appeared to be plenty of standing room for juggling. The floor was pretty uneven and lumpy in places, I doubted whether ladder or unicycle would be possible. Heading out the back flaps of the tent took you to the games tent. Ron had set up the Lazy Juggler stand in one corner and there were quite a few tables and chairs set up and a few more comfy chairs set around a log burning stove in one corner. It was a military green canvas tent as was pretty dark during the day, but I could see how nice and cosy it would be come nighttime. Returning to the main tent and exiting through the curtain took you directly into the onsite café. I was a bit nervous about the café. I checked the website in advance and found only a fleeting mention of onsite food availability. I am not particularly good at camping, but I can cope; however, cooking my own meals in the campsite takes it a little too far for me… I was delighted to see a range of cooking hobs / cooking paraphernalia, tea and coffee making area and lots of tasty looking cakes for sale. The menu was up and declared that there would be lentil cottage pie available that evening. Mollified that I would indeed be eating properly for the week I returned to the big top for my first juggle of the convention.
Ewan was very excited to see my extendable pole and couldn’t resist having a go on it himself. He seemed fascinated with the tip and was pleased with the length. I was encouraged to show it to Ron later in the week as he too would be interested to see it. Ewan also had a quick go with my Borzykine and promptly confiscated it for the rest of the convention. I did get some good advice for the trick in return.
The lentil cottage pie was really very good: served with side vegetables, and for pudding there was rhubarb crumble which was a real tooth dissolver, lovely!
Jason and I had a club passing session and it went very well. He showed me a few cheeky tricks which ‘don’t often work’ and consequently worked perfectly every time. We also did some larger patterns with 8/9 clubs and finished with a spot of 10. It was a lovely first pass of the convention.
Afterward I joined a Tichu game with Rob and Ron and Cosmo. Despite Cosmo’s having not played for a few years and Ron being a ‘bit’ tipsy we got absolutely smashed (not as much as Ron…). I have never played in such a one-sided match ever before, it was excruciating. Rob and I lamented at our cards and immediately expunged the whole evening from our memories.
I went through the ‘I’m camping, where are all the things I need, oh I remember, they are spread between my tent and juggling hall and everything is in the wrong place’ syndrome for a while until I finally lay down in my tent. I opened up my super posh ear plugs and found that there were not any ear plugs in the packaging, I had in fact bought an empty ear plug case. Someone had obviously opened the packaging in the shop and pinched them and was probably enjoying a quiet night’s sleep at my expense! I seethed. It was really cold at night but I had come with a car full of bedding, so I settled down on my airbed with my sleeping bag over me as well as my duvet and after only a little bit of wiggling was toasty warm and fell asleep.
I woke up freezing cold. I wiggled around again and got toasty warm and dropped off to…
I woke up again freezing cold. I realised that my air bed was freezing and I was in fact lying on a bed of ice. I rearranged and lay on top of my sleeping bag with the duvet over the top and slept until –
Sunday – Hulver Farm
I lay awake for a long time in the morning, putting off the moment when I would have to try out the showers and wondering if I could actually camp for the next week. Eventually, I couldn’t put it off any longer, and I headed out through the slumbering campsite into the sun (pleasantly warm) and into the shower block. There were two curtained cubicles in the men’s with a single water on/off lever with no temperature control. I didn’t have high hopes but I turned the lever and was greeted with a confident flow of very warm water. IT WAS GLORIOUS! I genuinely had a lovely shower and emerged into the beautiful sunshine feeling like a new man.
I had brought a big tub of yoghurt with me so I enjoyed my usual muesli and yoghurt mix (see Berlin review from a number of years ago) and took in the morning sunshine. I received quite a lot of ridicule for my camping chair which is actually Jenni’s ‘side of the juggling convention hall’ chair and I admit is a little on the small side.
The big top was deserted so I had a really nice morning stretch and juggle. Void entered the tent at one point and was surprised by my Bungay trick attempt. (Note: the ‘Bungay trick’ is when someone juggles 3 clubs whilst balancing a long pole on their face which has a ball spinning on the end. Getting the ball spinning is widely regarded as the hardest part of the trick…)
I decided to go for a short walk to see some of the local countryside and familiarise myself with the local area. I headed out further down the farm track I had arrived by. There were a lot of paths around the edge of the fields and I saw a lot of hares in the fields. There was a lot of birdsong and also a lot of insect life (I had already noted an ecosystem living in my tent’s porch…) and I saw loads of bees. I went through various fields and a village or two and had a good look round nearby St Michael’s church, there were a few spots of rain so I headed back to the farm via the lanes.
I didn’t really know what kind of toastie to have so Chilli prepared one for me and it was really delicious. I then joined a game of Spot the Tifference. It has been interesting to see everyone’s methods of finding the differences, but no method works perfectly as nobody has managed to find them all yet. There were a few who gave a good effort and found 30 odd differences but nobody has managed to find them all. Still, there is time yet before the answer is revealed at the Leeds Juggling Convention.
I joined Void’s cryptic crossword workshop but was a little brain fatigued by this point and Void’s workshop pushed me over the edge.
It got quite a bit cooler as the afternoon wore on and the rain got more persistent. I started juggling balls to keep warm and ended up having a really good session with lots of tricks and patterns feeling good. There was a pewter buttercup casting workshop (i.e. pass making workshop) run by Charlie Hull and while this was going on I got trick suggestions from Robin and Ewan. They actually came up with quite a cool ass catch combo trick with 5 balls, the only thing missing from it is a pirouette, I might actually practise this and turn it into something because it is a good one. Jason came over so we did some 7 ball steals for a while and we were both very happy with how it went.
I settled down onto one of the sofas to read my book but then was drawn into a board game proposal from Andy, Mark, Cosmo and Rob. I was sold when it was 7 Wonders as I have only played the 2 Player 7 Wonders Duel version. It was a good game, I liked it, but there wasn’t much interaction. So, if a player on the other side of the table is running away on points it is very hard to stop them unless you are sitting adjacent to them. I liked the way the turns worked and the things you could buy for your cities etc., but it did feel like you were just building your own city and ignoring everyone else. It was fun playing anyway and Mark was very surprised to win.
The evening meal was a bean ratatouille for me and I sat afterward and had a really nice chat with Polly-Anna until Sarah and Paul arrived and took her away to eat.
Back in the main tent I played my first spot of table tennis since I left high school against Rob. It was very funny; I really enjoyed it. Andy took over from Rob and it was really really funny! Mr Silver took over from Andy and it was very intimidating.
After my foray into table tennis I managed to grab a spot at the Tichu table with Rob, Andy and KayKay. It was KayKay’s first ever game so we introduced her to the joys of Tichu, I think it went down well.
Monday – Great Yarmouth
I went to bed in the early hours after our game of Tichu, but despite this I awoke at 6am for no reason at all. I forced myself back to sleep and woke again at 8am.
I could feel I was getting the beginnings of a cold, slightly sore throat and general grogginess. I felt much better after my morning shower and another breakfast by the side of the buttercups.
I took my ladder into the main tent to try, and promptly packed it away in the car, not to be used again at the convention; the floor was just not safe for ladder work. I decided to go out for the day so went to see Bungay town.
Nice little market town with a surprising number of charity shops (no good books), there was a very nice church on the high street which had a very impressive front entrance / archway, the one-way systems made the town more interesting than it needed to be. I took my earplugs back to the Boots store and they gave me a refund without raising any fuss, I was both grateful and impressed. They did not have any suitable replacements. (Presumably because they’d all been stolen…)
I was driving towards Lowestoft but decided to divert up the coast and go to Great Yarmouth on the premise that if it has ‘great’ in the name then it must be good. The approach to GY was not very inspiring, lots of retail parks and industrial units, although it did improve somewhat when I crossed the bridge over the river into the town. I took a right and headed towards the seafront via the dock areas, again not very pretty but at least functional. I was very impressed to see the Siemen’s factory which made wind turbines for offshore wind farms. It was pretty amazing to see all of the turbine blades lined up ready for transport, they are massive!
I parked for free at the far end of the seafront close to the pleasure beach. The gates were open so I detoured through inside with the aim of seeing some of the rides. It was deserted aside from a few very stern looking engineers who were moving about the site in small teams. It felt a little like one of those apocalypse movies. I thought I was trapped in the ‘night of the living amusement park engineers’ but I did finally find another gate which was open and fled towards the town.
There was a very wide variety of places in which to buy brightly coloured plastic rubbish or candyfloss and donuts. Tat factor 9, I quite enjoyed it. The town centre was a bit tired but I felt they were trying and at least it was clean. I got a couple of good books in the charity shops and found a nice holiday present for Jenni from a real shop. I went back to the seafront to hunt for a good fish and chip shop and a bench to sit on and watch the sea in the cold wind, as per British seaside tradition. I was tired and hungry and the wind was pretty cold so I took a seat in Joyland’s American Diner on the sea front. I ordered the Seafood Platter and it was out of this world! The portion was HUGE and all really tasty, I didn’t feel I had missed out on fish & chips at all. I enjoyed the décor and music and wrote up a lot of my review whilst working my way through lunch. I left with a spring in my step which was surprising considering how much food I was carrying with me.
I walked back to car along the beach and picked up pretty and / or interesting stones along the way. I avoided the campers and guys with metal detectors in the dunes and eventually got back to the car.
After my bracing walk and hearty meal I was filled with vigour and elected to travel back via Lowestoft to see what the town was like. Turned out that its where chavs go to have shouting matches in the streets. After sampling a little of the local flavour I removed myself from the town and headed back to Bungay.
Steve Mills had arrived onsite so I had a nice chat with him about the Borzykine and then I followed it up with a ball juggling session, shortly followed by more table tennis. I played with Rob, then Mr Silver, then Andy, followed once again by Mr Silver. I must have played solid for 3.5 – 4 hours and it was absolutely brilliant fun. I stood outside with everyone and watched Santa fly over the site.
I walked back to the tent with KayKay and in conversation she mentioned that she had a big bag of earplugs. I slept very soundlessly that night until…
Tuesday – Crazy Golf
I still woke very early despite the earplugs. I think my body clock has just got a very poor sense of humour. It was another lovely sunny (and quite warm) morning, so I breakfasted in the sun and then found a quiet spot to go and read my book.
I started the day with some diabolo (I’m learning two but don’t yet know where to hit them to keep them both straight. I have the DVDs but haven’t watched them yet) and bumpy unicycle headbounce.
I had received an invite to join the crazy golf pilgrimage to none other than Great Yarmouth. Despite going there the previous day this sounded too crazy to miss. Kayleigh and I piled into the back of Andy and Sandra’s car and we headed off with Andy, Tarim and Lynne following close behind. We did try to find / contact Susannah and Guy but they couldn’t be found.
While we waited for the others to arrive we had some very nice ice creams and Andy brought a mega bag of donuts for us to share which came with us round the first course.
Our first game took place on Castaway Island and it was crazy indeed! I heartily embarrassed myself but did at least score the highest on points… We then split the teams, so the lowest scoring players went on one team and the highest scoring on the other, and headed towards Pirates’ Cove. They were a keen bunch of money-grubbing pirates at the Cove but that was only to be expected. The course was much more exciting and watched by various pirate folk and some children who were not happy that the final hole kept the balls. Kayleigh impressed us all with her epic rebound
shots, whilst Lynne and I took a more careful approach. My game improved during the second course but Tarim was crowned champion of the 2019 Crazy Golf Tournament for the second year running. Andy G and I took advantage of the foot-long sausages on the seafront while some of the others had chips. We admired the rock on display and thought about taking one back for Jason. I was allowed to do a quick postcard stop and then we all drove back to site. I had been treated to a lovely day at the seaside and promptly fell asleep in the back of the car. Sandra was kind enough to capture the memory for me…
I slept in the tent for a few hours before heading to the café tent for some very nice falafel burgers and a peach coddle for dessert. Never heard of a peach coddle before but whipped cream was involved and that made it all ok. Returning to the tent, I had a really good passing session with Devilstick Matt. We covered quite a few Zap Zip patterns and I made note of a few to take back to Hullabaloo.
I also had a very good passing session with Rob where we went up to 8 club PPS and 9 club ultimates (two of my favourite patterns).
There was a backgammon tournament taking place so there was not much traffic in the main tent and a lot of excited noises coming from the café tent. It got rather cold so I retired to the games tent to write my postcards. I was shortly joined by a large group of wannabe werewolves and a god who proved to be ever exasperated with his subjects. I slunk away to the campsite and settled down to sleep but could still hear the god getting more and more irate, then I remembered my earplugs…
Wednesday – Southwold
The café proved itself again with a very nice cooked breakfast.
I hooked up with Mark and Kat and together we set off on our bikes towards Southwold. It was a very nice route away from major roads and with only a few hills. We toured through some nice villages and saw some very nice houses.
As we approached Southwold pier we were overtaken by a car full of jugglers and we found more in the café and on the pier. The good ice cream shop was shut so we settled for expensive Magnums from a different café on the pier.
I was taken up the pier to visit the Under the Pier Show. A local inventor, Tim Hunkin, has been making weird and wonderful arcade games for many years and has an arcade of his inventions for people to play on. We watched Kat try to climb the housing ladder, we watched Andy get a sore bum and everyone watched me do a laydown aerobics class. Not in the least bit intrusive or embarrassing. I also managed to cross a busy street with a Zimmer frame to get to bingo. I can see why this is a classic Bungay pilgrimage site.
The Quantum Tunneling Telescope was not working correctly which was a shame. The ‘hall’ of mirrors was working and was very well received. We loitered on the pier for a time waiting for the water clock to strike the hour. It was worth the wait!
We then joined a large party of convention-goers headed towards the lighthouse, as it was open to visitors on Wednesdays and at weekends. It was impressive, on entering you are immediately taken with the height of the tower and the curly staircase clinging to the outside wall. Nobody mentioned Sarah’s tan lines. I found it very difficult to walk up the stairs while looking either up or down, I don’t have a problem with heights, but I got terribly dizzy / discombobulated. I was recombobulated when we all piled into the switchgear room on the ’first’ floor. A nice lady gave a talk about the lighthouse and goings on there before we all piled up the next set of stairs to the top. Lovely views from the top and lots of interesting things to see. Again, the tour guide was able to tell us more about the lighthouse and how it worked. I had actually not realised before that each lighthouse has its own ‘signature’ of light flashes to aid navigation, I thought it was pretty much just a ‘don’t sail too close to me’ beacon and a bit outdated now. I made myself dizzy again on the way down, is it the curved / spiral staircase that does it?
We had a brief look round the town, I got a nice sweet chilli wrap for lunch, Kat got an artisan vegan tiramisu (or two) and we went to a couple of charity shops to look at the books. I found a couple of good-looking ones and Mark picked up another which he wasn’t sure if he had already. Fully laden up, we all mounted back up and set off back to site.
It felt like we were riding downhill for a lot of the way which was a welcome relief for me.
Jon’s Confession (Jonfession)
Forgive me, I was weak.
I was beginning to get a little weary of sleep deprivation as well as having general unhappiness surrounding the camping. There was nothing wrong with the site, I am just not a keen camper, especially not for so long. I felt like I needed a little break to refresh and come back stronger.
That is when I booked myself in for a one-night stay at a local Bed & Breakfast.
For Shame! Unthinkable!
I had a delicious meal in a local pub, a wonderful shower and then crashed out on the big comfy bed and watched some of ‘Live and Let Die’ on the tellybox. I have not seen a James Bond film for many, many years and I was really shocked at just how dated it is! I kept watching as a study of just how awful it was. I was too tired to stay up for the boat chase which was a shame as it was a family favourite in our house for a time. ‘On whoooossse side!’
Thursday – Hulver Farm
I awoke disappointingly early but still with an aura of calm and tranquillity. Breakfast started with a fresh fruit bowl followed up by a hearty English breakfast. Another bright sunny day, I headed back to site feeling refreshed and reinvigorated and, dare I say, recombobulated…
I have no regrets.
It was still early enough that I was able to sneak into the big top unnoticed, so I did. Teeheehee! Had a really excellent juggling session in the morning and said hellos to a few people as they staggered into the tent. Lots more people were arriving on site in time for the final weekend. I saw John, Joshie and Gracie as well as Bungle, Karl and Liam and Callum.
Back in the big top I had a really strong passing session with Andy, we did a load of cool stuff including different swings with 8 cubs. We also had some good runs of 9 clubs in many guises.
I had called in at the Co-Op on the way to site so I went for a bit of a walk and found a quiet corner to have a picnic and read my book in the sun for a bit.
Rob and I had another passing session, the 8 club PPS is coming along nicely. Afterward I played another table tennis session with Mr Silver. We were soon joined by Liam and Polly and had an uproarious doubles match. It was hilarious fun with a lot of banter and also t-rex style table tennis, in the end we had drawn quite a crowd of spectators, probably just to see what all the laughing was about!
The café was serving fajitas / Burritos for tea and of course I partook. I watched some ritualistic and ill-advised shot drinking. I watched Jay and Cal having a knockabout on the table tennis table and afterwards I played against Bogdan. He was a wall. He just stood there returning every shot. He was a formidable opponent. It was such good fun! Jay took over and we had another really funny knockabout and then Rob took over from Jay for the final match of the night. I was pretty tired after so much table tennis but managed to convince Jason that having a late-night club passing session was a good idea (he could stretch afterwards…). It went very well considering the hour. We covered a lot of patterns and most worked well, or at least good runs were achieved between the dodgy attempts.
Friday – Beccles
My airbed was pretty deflated when I awoke. I wasn’t lying on the floor yet, at least not all of me, but I knew it was only a matter of time.
I had another fine breakfast in the café before starting the day with a ring juggling session in the big top. It was far too muggy in the tent, and I could see it getting unbearable to juggle in there for the day, so I decided that another trip out was in order. I stared at the maps for ages in the car and failed to choose somewhere to visit. At this time Sarah, Polly and Devilstick Matt walked into the car park, I enquired as to their plans – secondhand bookshops in Beccles – and immediately invited myself along without too much protest.
Beccles was a nice little market town and had two secondhand bookshops and an array of charity shops which coincidently had very good book sections. I came away with six books and we called into the supermarket and I got a load more supplies. We all had a really pleasant morning pottering about and discussing good reads.
Onsite, I had another picnic in the countryside and watched the hares in the fields. I have never seen four in the same field and these ones were really tame. They either were used to people or had never really seen them before, I was probably within a metre or so away from one.
I called in at my tent on the way to the big top and gave CPR to my airbed. Ian, Jason and I delivered a Babapapa (does anyone even care if its spelt right? It’s a stupid name) workshop. It’s a three-person pattern which involves a feeder juggling ultimates to one hand of each of the other jugglers, then you can change positions during the pattern. It’s quite fun to do, it feels nice when it is running. Most groups managed a few position changes.
It was pizza night at the café and you could roll your own dough, choose from a variety of toppings and then have your own pizza cooked in the wood burning oven. Obviously, this is a must so I gamely stood in the queue for a bit. A good ten minutes later the queue had not moved an inch as there was only room in the oven for one pizza at a time. For the second time I snuck offsite and headed into Bungay town where I went into the local kebab shop and saw some really good looking shish being prepared on the hot grill. I took it back to site and was pleased to see that the people who were just in front of me in the queue were only one slice into their pizzas, not much time lost then. The pizza’s did look really good; I just couldn’t bear the wait.
After food Jay and I found ourselves at the table tennis table again, Mr Silver took over while Jay took a call, then I played Jay again and finished with a cracking game against Charlie Hull. It was a great game with lots of good points from both sides but Charlie ended it by taking me to the ground. Good game indeed!
During the game Danny and Wiebke arrived and so later we met with Rob around the Tichu table. The Wiebke-and-Jon Tichu partnership once again proved unbeatable. We all rushed outside lethargically to see the comet / return of Santa but we were too late and it had moved on. It was a really cold evening with a bright starlit sky.
My air bed was a bit saggy but comfy enough to sleep on.
Saturday – My Last Day
I woke up lying on the ground, my bed had given up all pretence of staying inflated and had collapsed entirely. I had my shower and went to the café for breakfast and found out that they don’t start serving breakfast till 9am. It was 8am and I had not been in this situation yet this convention.
I had already mentally signed up for a ride on my bike during the day, as I had only used it the once since arriving, so I decided to cycle to another café for breakfast. 8 miles later I was at the Broken Egg café (very popular for a Saturday breakfast) and tucking into another very hearty breakfast. It seemed to take less time once again to get back than it did to get there…
I had a morning club passing session with Andy where we revisited a lot of the cool patterns we had done earlier in the week. We stopped for water a couple of times before resuming, the mark of a good session. We finished with a surprisingly good run of about 30 catches on 10 club ultimates, all on doubles. Andy went off for a shower and I challenged Rob to a game of table tennis, once again we had a fun match.
I came to the realisation that if I left the convention after the show (instead of on the Sunday morning as I’d originally planned) then that would be a night which I wouldn’t have to spend in my tent or on my air bed. I checked the weather for the morning and the deal was done. I took my tent down in the sun and packed everything away dry, then I fully loaded the car. I used the airport baggage handlers’ method of ‘packing’ which involves standing 10 feet away from the car and throwing everything in.
I went for another toastie in the café and recreated the one that Chilli had made for me earlier in the week. Over lunch Ewan told me quite bit about the convention and how it worked, I was very amused to learn that the hot tub belonged to the Buddhists. It was at this time that I was made aware of the Bungay magazine and from it I learned that the winner and organiser of the backgammon tournament was Ian H and that the poker tournament was won by Andy G after four second place finishes over the years. There were some excellent ‘old timers’ tips’ as well as an informative interview with Farmer Paul and some interesting maths puzzles (if you like that sort of thing…) and poems. I wasn’t very impressed with BBU TV as it showed a lot of repeats during the week.
I ran a workshop on backcrosses. I’m thinking of running it more often during conventions as I think it’s a popular trick which is often misunderstood. Once you’ve broken down the trick into its component parts and shown how it works, there is not much else to except go away and practise. I hope people were inspired to do that.
It was then time to do some routine preparation for the show. I practised in the sun while the tent was being tidied and the show set up was going on. After a little while I settled on a song that I have always wanted to perform to, and set to work picking the tricks for a few key moments.
For the first time in the convention the tent was full of people! All manner of camping chairs materialised and became occupied.
Jay acted as compere for the evening and was his usual self. There was a really nice, fun loving vibe throughout the whole show. It was really close and cosy in the big tent and I think that made a lot of difference.
I was the first act and I must say I haven’t had so much fun on stage for quite a while! The audience was really lovely and I didn’t really get nervous like I normally would. It was a real pleasure, I may well bring that routine out again someday, I quite liked it.
KayKay performed for the first time with LED poi and also her hoop juggling. Very happy smiley, nice tricks performed well. Very good.
Callum gave his showman diabolo routine which required some special introduction from Jay to set the scene. Very funny. The routine was performed really well and went down well.
Then there was a ‘Children of Bungay’ section in the show which was very entertaining and had a few surprises in there too. Ben and Libby did a fun mix of diabolo and plate spinning with lots of interaction.
Jay then demonstrated the Bungay trick and a good few people went up on stage to attempt it.
The next feature was the results of Chill’s Silly Willy competition, which had been running all week, to guess the weight and length of the humorously sized squash. Ewan was victorious and won himself a night with all twelve inches of the squash. There were calls for clarification and there were also calls for a recount (most forcibly from Ewan!).
The Void then told us a couple of stories from his time working at an ill-fated Christmas party venue where it seems nobody was safe. It was funny and very well told. I was waiting for the punchline (geddit) that Ewan had been the guest at the party who was struck and that he didn’t know it was the Void who had done it, but that was just my misunderstanding.
Mr Silver made some terrible puns but then showed us all some very lovely contact ball sequences. Very pretty and smooth, a nice act.
Closing the show was a ‘Fistful of Lice’, also known as Andy and Sandra, giving a wonderful rendition of their duo hat juggling routine. I’d only seen it on video before now so was delighted to see it live. It’s a great routine, very sweet and funny but with some cool tricks and combinations in there. It went down a storm. Very good routine, I immediately started trying to book them for Leeds Juggling Convention with renewed vigour.
And that was the end of the show. The curtain call was a bit shambolic; I suspect it was not rehearsed.
End of Convention – Travel
Afterwards I went through to the café and had a bit of each of the four curries which were on offer. All were very nice but the most exciting was the muntjac madras. I played a touch of combat in the tent but wasn’t really feeling and definitely didn’t want to take part in a tournament. It didn’t really feel right for there to be a tournament at Bungay somehow.
After Azul had ended I went and collected Danny and Brook and partnered up with Wiebke once again. We took a bit of a pummelling for the first three quarters of the game which we didn’t manage to recover from. We did manage some good rounds near the end and broke a few Tichus but we were much too far behind. A shame to end the convention on a losing game, but it was a good game.
I bobbed around the tent and the café for a bit saying farewell to everyone who was still awake / around, there was quite a party atmosphere.
I was very sad when I got in the car as I had thought the journey to Peat HQ was about 2.5 hours, but my sat nav said just over 3. I considered my options, and not sleeping in a tent for the night won out, so I headed out. It was a long and dull drive with hardly any traffic so I made it to HQ at around 3am, snuck into the house and slept once again in a real bed.
Convention Round Up
I had a great time at the convention!
It’s true that not a huge amount of juggling took place, but you are free to do as much as you like (which I did!). It’s a very cheerful event and you are never far from some friendly people to sit and have a chat with. There are lots of nice day trips you can do should you get tired of the site, and of course it is set in quite tranquil surroundings. I didn’t have a single bad meal at the café (although the peach coddle was slightly strange…) and it was fairly priced and good quality.
I think that without the café I would have suffered and may not have lasted the whole week (we’ll not talk about the Wednesday night…).
The problems I had at the event all pretty much stemmed from my own lack of enthusiasm for camping.
One thing which I have experienced at camping conventions I have been to is that there is never a clear definition of what the different camping areas actually mean. I feel that a lot of people camp in the ‘quiet’ camping area as they do not want to be disturbed by other people making noise when they are trying to sleep. I found a lot of people being noisy in the morning without much thought as to whether anyone else might be trying to sleep. I feel that people (myself included) might benefit from a reminder of the etiquette rules for the different camping zones, perhaps have a defined time slot (10pm-10am for example) where no noise is permitted for the quiet area?
This is a generic campsite gripe I have and might stem from the lack of time I spend on campsites but there were quite a few instances when I thought ‘should you be that noisy here / now?’.
All that put aside.
I had a really great time at Bungay and would recommend that you try it. Thank you to all of the organisers for putting on the event, to the café for keeping me sane, and I apologise to everyone for hogging the table tennis table!
I only have one regret which is that I never did get to play a game of croquet. Still, there is always next year…