Bungay Balls Up 2009

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The 10th Bungay Balls Up

16-May-2009 to 25-May-2009

The Bungay Balls Up is an exceptionally chilled out festival held annually at Hulver farm in Suffolk. Photos, reviews & more can be found on the Bungay Balls Up festival website

Nicky & I made a second foray into the alternate reality that is the Bungay convention. After just 2 festivals I'm coming round to the idea that Bungay may be my new favourite festival in the calendar.

Catering this year was provided courtesy of Monte Griffo's Frying Circus, I enjoyed a fantastic roast pork dinner & a chilli con carne one night, plus a decadently gooey chocolate cake, Nicky & pretty much everyone else thoroughly enjoyed the banoffee pie (I don't like bananas). As well as the regular scheduled meals there was also a self service buffet equipped with toasters & kettles that was probably more intended for breakfast but was ideal for late night munchies. Prices were more reasonable this year than last & as such the cafe was definitely more popular & well used.

The Bungay regulars are a really wonderful bunch, if possible it seemed we were made even more welcome this year than the last. New faces to us were Andy (if I grow up, I want to be like Andy), Curly Helen (world's greatest giggle) & Straight Helen (who we will be meeting again soon when we go to see The Cat Empire! Yay!), they were a seemingly endless resource for chat & game playing. As for all the other regulars, you know who you are, you are all too damn nice!

FAK's dress sense is awesome, she was seen sporting a fantastic Victorian style sun brolly, natty stripy leggings that went well with her brightly coloured shoes & I loved the purple cape. Neat "Who the FAK is Alice" hoody too.

Bungay is a fantastic place for evaluating various items of camping kit & talking to the owners to find out the pros & cons. Richard's camp kitchen was of particular note.

Nicky dropped a saucepan of beef stroganoff all over my sun hat limiting my ability to enjoy the top weather we had.

Rub a dub dub

One of the many highlights of the festival & new for 2009 was the hot tub lovingly set up & maintained throughout the week by Ewan & Plumsie. I naively asked where the pump was prompting Ewan to proudly treat me to an explanation of how the design works. It was extremely popular all week & there was often a queue to get in. I usually don't like hot things but I found it to be really relaxing & a great way to soothe aching muscles after overdoing it during an acro session. The stars were out pretty much every night providing a fantastic accompanying view while relaxing in the hot water. I found that getting out of the tub was a really positive experience, after just a 20 minute soak I was heated to the bone & could stand naked steaming into the cold night feeling totally invincible. It was good to see the relaxed attitude to nudity common to the European festivals, no one felt embarrassed or self-conscious at all.

I'm not sure how but both Nicky & I missed out on playing any croquet last year, but this was remedied this year thanks to a grand tournament organised by the Void. It is striking how such a civilised game can be so evil. I was drawn into a heat with Duncan, Helen & Birte who kindly explained how the game worked. The bobbly green made play a bit unpredictable but I still managed to pull off a few good shots. No matter how hard I tried though I could not overcome the sheer vindictiveness of my opponents who took great pride in roqueting me into every corner, there was a small truce as we ganged up on Duncan as he approached the finish but we were unable to stop him from taking the winning shot. Nicky also played very well in her heat with a fantastic shot through 2 hoops each positioned at opposite ends of the green. However, The Void ruthlessly used her ball to roquet himself around half the course to seal a very decisive victory.

I partnered Nicky for her first ever game of volleyclub against Abbi & Graham. She did very well, although probably didn't notice much difference between volleyclub & an average TWJC passing session.

Charlie & LP were a hive of industry casting loads of pewter buttercups as mementos. The mold was created by Duncan & was a work of art compared to the blobby efforts I remember from my GCSE tech class. I was really impressed by the level of quality the team were able to come up with given the detail of the mold. The buttercups provided an added distraction from actual juggling (as if another distraction was needed), loads of people spent a long time studiously polishing their keepsakes to the point where they looked like gleaming silver.

We didn't get to see Lynne beavering away with her sewing machine but the wonderfully stitched buttercups she produced for the festival passes were ace.

Actual Juggling!

There was a lot more juggling this year from me, it was really nice to have the time to spend systematically improving certain tricks. Lynne was interested in some of the steals she saw Nicky & I practising & asked to have a go at some of the stuff we do at TWJC. I'm usually the monkey so was pretty ropey at demonstrating the Peugeot double takeout that Mr K does so well. In return she introduced me to the Roundabout, a Prechac side by side pattern & a fiendishly difficult 3 person 5 club pattern with the help of John.

Jamming with Glyn - always a pleasure. Matt showed me some nice new passing rhythms, I particularly liked the one where one juggler does PPZSPPS on straights while the other does PPSPPZS on crossings. Quite the mind bender.

Little Paul was practising 5 clubs. I've no idea what that was all about.

At the more impressive end of the scale was Jason Perry who was consistently performing some very solid 7 ball runs. John Fletcher was doing some very nice combination stuff with a walking stick, clubs ring & a football. Martin & Mandy had 9 club passing pretty much mastered & had some very respectable goes with 10. Andy Fraser was a joy to watch with his lazily relaxed style with all sorts of interesting club swinging patterns that I had never seen before.

Continuing from last year Colin & Anwen & also Andy Fraser were fantastic sources of inspiration & advice for all things acro related. We gleaned lots more tips to improve the stuff we already knew & learnt some new moves to extend our repertoire including a fantastic couterbalance extension to the candle stick. It was very enjoyable stuff, although the hard work possibly goes against the Bungay ethic. Still it was a good excuse to use the hot tub afterwards.

Serious playing

As before the games were the main source of entertainment for me. Nicky & I joined Ewan, Rob, Andy, Tom, Jay & Anna for an EPIC game of Robot Rally. Loosely based on Robot Wars the idea of the game is to manoeuvre your robot to touch 3 different flags through a playing field of conveyer belts, lasers & pits, the difficulty being that you have to play five moves in advance & every player moves simultaneously. The other player's moves may affect your own plus each player has various weapons & gadgets that they can use on other players. It was a great game even though I was only thwarted by my own incompetence & inability to count properly. It was great fun to watch other people, especially Anna, planning their 5 moves in advance as they kept turning round to mimic the orientation of their robot.

We also joined Hazel, Jo, Helen, Rob, George & Richard (who it appears has great difficulty in playing a game if there is no back story to it) for some wonderfully sneaky rounds of Saboteur. Andy introduced me to Carcasonne which I think was probably my favourite game of the convention. The object of the game is to build houses, castles & roads within the walls of a great castle by alternately placing pictured tiles on the board, the larger the structure the more points you score. It was simple enough to be picked up pretty quickly but complex enough to force you to really think. Blokus was very popular with a lot of people, Glyn especially seemed to have the knack for the game. Lunar Lockout also passed through many hands, it is a single player game with similar rules to Ricochet Robots but with set puzzles that you need to work through. I particularly enjoyed working through the expert puzzles with Tom, we ended up solving the last puzzle by pretty much exhausting every possibility.

The Show

This year's show was hosted by the legendary Farmer Paul who presided over a short & sweet collection of acts gleaned from the attendees. Kicking off the proceedings were The Void, Monte & Charlie all performing the Bungay Trick which looked great for the several catches that they were all running at the same time. Glyn went through a chilled contact & 3 ball juggling routine with only a single fumble, not bad for something he claimed he hadn't performed for a number of years. We were then taken outside for a dance routine with fire fans from Ellana which was much more than just waving a couple of fans about so I was happy.

After a quick break we had the results of the Bungay photo competition which was run by Little Paul & yielded some very nice entries, all of which were overshadowed by the astonishingly spectacular trophy constructed from a candlestick holder, an instant camera & some gold paint. Top act of the show for me was The Voidy Cooper who did lots of nice stuff with a ken-dama, dama-ken. The clicky, clacky, cloppy was ace. Quite how I ended up in the show I'm not sure, possibly because no one else wanted to do it. Not having anything worth performing Lynne & I just about managed to cobble something together in time for the show, which aside from some bog standard 4 count passing consisted entirely of tricks that I had learnt that week which was really nice for me, if not the audience. We were spectacularly droppy, but had lots of fun doing so.

Ken Pretentious pulled some stuff from his Science in a Suitcase. In theory it should be a kids show, in practise I think the adults were laughing much more than the kids. Finishing off the show was Belgian Martin with a fine 3 club act which although a little droppy (pot, kettle, moi?) had a great array of tricks & lots of nice combinations with flourishes which left me wanting to practise more. Easily the most spectacular performer of the night.

& finally

I know I said it at the start but it is worth repeating, I think Bungay is now my favourite festival in the juggling calendar. It was really sad to leave site & I can't wait for next year. Thank you to Charlie, The Void, Farmer Paul, Monte, LP, Ewan, Plumsie & everyone else that made the festival happen.