Tag Archives: juggling

Bungay Balls Up

The Bungay Balls Up juggling convention in Suffolk has come and gone for another year. I usually volunteer for set-up and tear-down but couldn’t make it until Friday afternoon due to OU commitments (the final online tutorial before my philosophy exam) so was just working tear-down this year. Ten days of buttercups, games, juggling under drones, morning runs and study sessions, trips out to parkrun, Sunday roasts, watercolour painting, pancakes, spinning, yoga, reading, cat-bothering, washing up, and basically doing as much or as little as I want. A lovely sunny and windy day for tear-down (perfect for drying out damp carpet), with the opportunity to transfer to a smaller tent from the big bell tent before the rain came on Monday evening (which is currently drying over the banisters).

Some photos here: Bungay 2014

There were other people there, but I’m rubbish at taking pictures of them. Same time next year?

BJC2012 – Southend – 25th Anniversary

It was BJC’s 25th outing this year (my 10th BJC) and it was convened in Southend from 11th-15th April.


We arrived just after 16:30, having navigated the M25 without issue and then got stuck behind a steam engine. Straight over to registration for our passes, show tickets, and explanatory brochure. A quick pitch of the tent before the showers came, then back to have a look around the main venue. I headed straight for the merchandising and got one of the rare size small hoodies and a size small skinny fit t-shirt (money well spent). The main hall was an excellent space – indoor tennis courts divided in half by a walkway, with workshops in the indoor basketball courts.

We stayed long enough in the main hall or get ourselves oriented and dump juggling gear for later (also having a quick tour around the traders who were still in the process of setting up), then back for some dinner before the evening festivities.

In the course of catching up with friends a group of us ending up in the evening’s quiz, which was half juggling questions and half general knowledge.    But for my Helen Mirren being changed to a Judi Dench we would have drawn with the winning, but ended up with 42 to their 43. The winning team was composed of friends and we would have normally been part of it but we happened to be sitting at different tables chatting when the quiz started.

A relatively early night as it was going to be a busy day on Thursday.


Thursday was the British Kendama Open, but I started it with a swim (a gentle 500m) and running a workshop (introduction to club passing). I had to dash out of Aidan’s theory workshop halfway through to go help run the BKO (mostly filming).

Lots of good clicking at the BKO, but my spot was freezing cold and I had to dash out of the Big Top where it was being held to grab my massive down coat (dodging the heavy showers). Gorgeous sunshine was waiting when the competition was over (at which point I got a call from my sister giving me the lowdown on her merting with the incompetent solicitors who are still handling my grandmother’s estate, three and a half years on).

Back to the main hall for some solo juggling, watched the German wheel display, then dinner. After dinner I decided not to queue for Open Stage but instead headed back to the main hall to throw things around with friends. This was all going well (we were working through the scrambled v variations) when I got a club which bent my nail back 2mm into the nail plate, cracking it). That sidelined me for the rest of the evening, but I did get a Wallace and Gromit plaster out of it.

Later on I went to the Old Skool panel in the bar, to hear tales from “experienced” performers and BJC attendees. Highly entertaining and I hope it happens again in the future, there are lots of stories out there to be told.


Another 500m dip in the pool and a quick trip to Waitrose to stock up on plasters. Just as well as I managed to smash my thumbnail getting my highest ever run of 4 clubs (120 catches).

I elected not to attend BYJoTY as previous years had been hard to get into and I didn’t feel like queueing in the on-and-off rain for rickety big top seating.

It left the makn hall nice and quiet and I interspersed my bouts of solo juggling and snakeboarding with workshops (on social siteswaps and beginner hat manipulation) and after dinner watched the Gandini show “The Event” from the bar. No sound, but an excellent view, with additional commentary.

The “black tie and silver” party took place in the beer tent with a live band, so I got dollied up and trundled over there, to spend a lot of time trying not to look at Tom (there’s always one, I just wasn’t expecting it to be someone I knew). The live band (Scooby) were a little slow to warm up, but once they hit the right songs in their repertoire the dancefloor became cramme and I got my groove on (and made full use of my deely boppers).


Saturday was show day. Not being interested in the parade or games we walked down to the seafront, avoiding the buses and leaving more time for juggling, chatting, and playing cribbage. We did hit the end of the games, but there was ice-cream as a distraction, following which was the traditional herding of cats to find somewhere to eat before the show. We ended up in a curry-house chosen because they opened before their neighbour as the rain began to fall, after which it was a short meander to the theatre for the gala show.

The gala show began with the now traditional wasting of modelling balloons (though there didn’t seem to be as many giant beach balls bouncing around to whack you in the back of the head). The acts then ran as follows:

Phil Os – German diabolist. Lots of energy, good use of a semi-floppy haricut with rocky music. A bit of padding with some glow diabolo, but good fun and only minimal drops.

Ian Marchant – British variety act. A nice bit of combination trickery, and the final trick is good but I’d seen the act earlier in the year and the audience interaction brought out the worst in people who forget that the gala show isn’t a renegade.

Matthias Romir – German hat and ball juggling (with mime). I’d seen this in Munich at the EJC last year, and whilst good it did drag a little and I wanted him to get to the chair section quicker.

Gunnar Erik – German handbalancer. I was slightly concerned that he was going to be taking himself seriously when he marched on stage in his Matrix get up, but instead he kicked off with a properly hard trick (no waving around of the spare arm) and generally proceeded not to take himself seriously at all. Probably my favourite act of the show.

Gandini Juggling Project – multiple nationality gloclubs. Malte made me laugh (even though I couldn’t see his face) and it was all very good, very clever (with the colour changes and the music), but I’d seen a 4-person version of it in Rotterdam so it didn’t have as big an impact as it probably should have (plus the theatre was warm and I’d had a big dinner). It was good to see Jon Udry making it to the A team.


After the interval some juggling hero awards were given, to people who had contributed to the British juggling scene over the years, through their own juggling, through books and organising conventions, through prop design and manufacture. A couple of surprise inclusions and exclusions to my mind, but I wasn’t involved with the choices made so it’s always going to be very subjective. The acts kicked off again with:

Tony Pezzo – American ring manipulation and juggling. A very good act. I liked that he started with the high numbers, then gradually reduced (instead of going the other way), and the balance between fiddling about and actually throwing them was good. Extra points for hitting that final beat (and then just busting out 7 rings).

Rod Laver – British ping pong ball juggler. An act that I had mostly seen before over the years (though the gin bottles were new to me). All of the old jokes (still funny), all of the gurning (still my favourite parts of the act, though the actual juggling is also very good and mightily impressive), all round good egg.

Matthias Romir – back to do some club manipulation/juggling and clowning. All of the manipulation/juggling done with a balloon in front of his face (let me repeat that, with a balloon in front of his face!) was impressive, and I enjoyed the helium balloon interaction.

Tigris – German hula hooper and contortionist. Aside from a couple of tricks with the contortion I was disappointed with this act. It didn’t contain anything I hadn’t already seen and would have preferred to see HulaBoy Craig insteaD.

Françoise Rochais – French baton/club/parasol juggler. The headline act and very good she was too (though the initial costume was fugly). I preferred the second half of the act to the first and my only wish was that it had been a little longer (isn’t that the ideal, to leave the audience wanting more?). All done in heels on a raked stage.

A quick dash to get on the first bus back for more juggling in the main hall and watching some seriously good gladiators.


Managed to get the tent down and packed away in the dry (and high winds) leaving plenty of time to grab some brunch in the cafe and attend the BJC business meeting (broke even and the Yorkies are running it next year). A final wander around the main hall and trader then it was time for the closing show, “Smashed”, by the Gandinis again. It was a longer show than I thought it would be (an hour), but entertained for its full duration. Some things I was expecting, some things I was not. Funnier and more disturbing than I expected.

Back in the car and home.

Thank you to everyone who made it happen.

Strangely relevant

I’ve been getting some odd messages to my work phone. Someone has been sending text messages, which get read out when sent to a land line. It’s not the mobile number of anyone I know (and I haven’t given out my work number to friends) but today’s message was “I forgot the running around screaming goat”.

BoB convention at the weekend. It was packed and seemed to go well but I wasn’t really in convention mood. Could be due to changes coming, could be due to over-conventionitis, could be anything really.

Still no work to do at work. Filling 7 hours a day with looking busy is tiresome.

Ungrateful wretches

Just had a performance review meeting which came as a bit of a shocker. Apparently they’re very disappointed in the time I have been charging and the internet gestapo have been having a snoop (farewell OBO). They’re apparently considering terminating my contract. Nice to know when I’m about to go on holiday. I’ve been begging them to give me more work (I only got an official allocation last week and have been picking up other people’s work) and was told off early on for not charging enough time to clients (I was putting research down to “technical reading”). I shall have to seriously consider my options.

In other news, have had a nasty cold but still made it to https://www.fakoriginal.com/fak’s_fotos/Honeystreet_2008/index.html, and https://www.fakoriginal.com/fak’s_fotos/2008_June_Party/index.html and also caught two performance of Sweet Life by the Gandinis (picture below).

Also saw some surprisingly good kid’s circus and tidied up the house to a state where I am happy for people to come and see it (including buying a new drill and attaching the mantelpiece yesterday).

Starting to get excited about EJC and thinking about what to pack. Fingers crossed the weather is good.

All change

It was the Big Move this weekend, with lots of hiding out in the spare bedroom and in town to avoid seeing all of  the stuff being taken out of the house (including the fig tree from the garden). I kept myself busy taking 4 bin bags of clothes and other textiles for charity recycling, along with 14 pairs of shoes (which might leave me in a position of owner fewer than 14 pairs of shoes). Also braved the summer sales to get a new set of good kitchen knives and a new kettle (I shall have to go out again for replacement storage containers).

I have been assured that the remaining items will be cleared out today, so I should be able to sleep in my own bed, in my own room for the first time in 11 months probably tomorrow (poker tonight, so I won’t be back until late).

I also spent a relaxed Saturday evening in (after the horror of the cricket) watching telly, eating pizza, and confusing the cat (easily done). Had one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages and managed to charge through a load of knitting in the afternoon. I’ve now almost finished my commissioned pieces, but this week is looking hectic, so may not be done until the weekend.

Juggling ended up having a surprisingly high turnout in the end, and managed to get some decent 7c 2-count on singles in, and 13 catches of 4 clubs (and turned the heel on my sock). Not bad going, but then I stayed up too late watching Top Gear and getting some knitting to a particular stage.

Lestival show

The following is written in the traditional Leicester style, with points and everything. Apologies if the order might be slightly iffy at times.

Adrian Pole

Ady opened the show, not to U2 [+1], but as a miniature Anthony Gatto with silver waistcoat [+1] and classical music. He stuck to three, four and five balls and used the musical cues well [+1]. He did, however, try to get the audience clapping along, which I’ve never liked [-1] and didn’t finish his lines as cleanly as Martin did later in the show [-1] (he could learn a lot from the Belgian one). Overall score [+1].

Luke Hallgarten

Luke came on in a parka which reminded me of both Tiff and Men in Coats, so got me giggling [+1]. He then sat on a chair for a bit waiting for the teenage social concern angsty bit to finish before doing any actual juggling [-1]. The routine was good, but unfortunately quite droppy and the lights seemed to get in his way (height-wise) several times), which made it feel quite disjointed [-1]. He ended with what I’m thinking of as his standard 5-club finish. Overall score [-1].

It was either Sarah or Tom next and I can’t remember which, so I’m going with Sarah.

Sarah Biskup

The newly inked, newly escaped from the circus Sarah was on next (or next but one) in a riot of pink and blue [+1]. Lots of energy, lots of moving around the stage [+1]. It was rings, but it wasn’t Norbi [+1]. A bit of work on posture and bodylines could make Sarah’s performances very good indeed. Still a bit scruffy though [-1]. Overall total [+2].

Tom Derrick

Tom came and did his tennis routine. Again [-1]. Apparently there was some new bits, but I’ve seen this routine a lot and zoned out a bit. What was missing was the fake serve, and a bit of Cliff Richard during the “rain delay” [-1]. A lot less droppy than it has been though, and with Wimbledon inappropriate hair [+1]. Overall total [-1].

Rachel Black

Rachel changed out of her hula hooper costume into more standard fair for the show [+1] and rocked out with the routine seen earlier in the year at Chocfest [+1]. Still, good, still like it, and it can’t have been easy to do in front on her parents. Overall total [+2].


Paid Darren to pick and wash strawberries [+1] and managed to lose two of my raffle tickets [-1].


Went quickly [+1] , could have gone quicker – how about going tombola style so people don’t dither about choosing prizes? I think BoB have done this in the past.

Jay Linn

Jay was compère for the evening, and did mostly a fine job [+1] in spite of some persistent heckling [-1]. He kicked off the second half with a bit of cigar box stacking/slamming, followed by a balance with a juggle. Unfortunately the stage was too high for the audience to see that the last cigar box was still on the floor (at least I couldn’t), which spoiled the classic ending somewhat [-1], and Jay’s balance either refused to stabilise itself quickly enough or he waited too long to get the juggle in (the people sitting next to me were muttering “just juggle, now” as soon as the balance was half stable) and sapped the energy a bit [-1]. Aidan made up for it with a marvellous heckle asking whether this was why the raffle was so quick. [+1]. Overall total [-1].

Apex Acro

Apex were up next with their Oh So Quiet routine. Professional, good stuff [+1], a little bit scarily wobbly at one point [-1], but they were all colour coordinated and varied speeds and stuff, so deserve at least another [+1], with an extra [+1] for getting Sarah back on stage to clear away the mats. Overall total [+2].

John Booth

John was next doing a bit of a Norbi impression dressed all in black with one and two white diabolos. He had a very slick, dropless routine [+1] with lots of smirking [+1], and he kept his clothes on [+1]. Overall total [+3].

Martin Heasman

Martin was up next with the three ball routine that I saw at the Scottish and was entertainingly (to me) dressed in the same outfit as Jay [+1]. Very slick juggling, all choreographed to the music [+1], with humour and grinning [+1] and an uncharacteristic drop that I’m not penalising. Finished off his lines beautifully [+1]. Overall total [+4].

Matt Pang

I had absolutely no idea what Matt would do, but luckily he seemed to have a fair idea. Good costuming and use of both music and stage [+1] but unfortunately had a bit of a droppy night [-1]. Lots of one-bottle flair type stuff mixed with balancing on a mouth-stick and the final trick was really great [+1], but the routine was repetitive [-1] and as a whole lacked energy [-1]. Matt also seems to have picked up the circus school trick of nodding when the audience should clap [-1]. Overall total [-2].

The show line-up showed again how many performers are choosing to wear black/dark clothing (aside from Tom, it was the girls who lead the colour revolution) and ended with what was either the best or worst pun I have ever heard.

Total show score [+10].



Lestival, the first

Saturday was, in addition to not being the longest day, the first Leicester Juggling Convention: Lestival!

After being woken up at half five by someone else’s alarm, it was a case of pottering around and waiting for Susannah and Guy who arrived at a much more reasonable nine o’clock. Dump stuff in car (and decide that 30m was too far to go back for my snakeboard) and off through the winding streets and back roads towards The NORTH (some motorways were harmed in the making of the journey). General chat and horror at both petrol and sandwich prices meant that we got to the convention about half eleven (isn’t sat-nav great, I’d completely failed to write down the name of the venue and there weren’t any signs, so it’s a good job the postcode pretty much worked).

We were greeted by the family Peat, took our choice of tile, paid the usual raffle ticket tax and then had time to marvel at the sheer size of the atrium. It was big, it was wide, long, and three storey tall. Being a new school (it has already been open a year, not that you could tell from the outside) it was still a lovely bright white (so no need for quite that many rings, Parit) with a bobbly red floor. Oh, and that was just the atrium, there was also a sunken area used later for the games and which cunningly concealed a raised stage (no, we really couldn’t see that last cigar box, Jay). There was also a sports hall on the first floor with acres of space and no jugglers ’cause it was so damn good downstairs.

The pièce de résistance, however, was the kiosk. Tea, coffee, juice, baguettes, a variety of Indian savouries, doughnuts, fruit (I got the be awkward by ordering both melon and strawberries at different points of the day). If there had only been hot food I wouldn’t have gone to the chippy for dinner (though the chippy was good, particularly the pineapple fritter).

The usual things that happen at conventions happened: I managed to put off juggling for as long as possible by occasionally picking up some clubs which prompted people to come over and chat, or going to chat to them; games were played (both juggling and non, I was involved with neither, well except Set and didn’t last long in that); natters were had, etc. I actually went to a workshop, related to juggling, which is a rare event these days: Alby & Clurb’s beginning 7 clubs. It is not often that I get a chance to pass clubs these days, and I’d rather like to get better at 7, so this was great. A bit of 6 club 3-count and pass-pass-self to warm up, then 7 club 2-count on doubles AND singles, and a bit of ultimates (though not with Alby, who to be fair, I’ve never juggled with before). I’d like to thank Ed for the excellent holding together of the other end, to the extent that I considered throwing tricks in 2-count on doubles, and with whom 2-count on singles actually worked (maybe one day I’ll work on transitioning between the two).

On top of all of this was the commenting on Tom’s latest hair experiment, and Sarah’s new permanent marking (I didn’t even say a word); trying to persuade other people to run a British; being repelled by a baby; relocating an ice-cream maker; leaving my Sigg bottle *somewhere* along with two of the raffle tickets I’d put in my shoe (they’re probably not in the same place); going over personal issues repeatedly (maybe I’ll get some cards made up indicating the latest status); playing snakeboard line tig until my legs hurt; inspiring gadget envy; and being amused by text messages.

The sunken hall was transformed into the show venue, with aforementioned raised stage and slotted together seating (review later). Didn’t win anything in the raffle, which is probably a good thing as I’m trying to clear out a load of crap. Made a quickish exit and bombed back down the motorway and home, via finding out that you can’t do a three-point turn at the end of Guy’s road and at gone midnight, having been awake for almost 19 hours, it’s much easier to get someone else to un-stick your car and stop annoying the neighbours. It’s also much easier to park your car in a nice big space round the corner from your house than trying to parallel park around drunken revellers, then move it in the morning.

Photos at https://www.fakoriginal.com/fak’s_fotos/Lestival_2008/index.html

Bungay review

Some random thoughts on Bungay:

Buttercups, croquet, fox spotting, backgammon cupcakes, knitting, sunburn, buttercups, reading, differentiating Grahams, “Don’t touch the table!”, long walks, kidnappings, more croquet, Shepherdess Pie, crow scarers, buttercups,  triple x, eye strain, “It’s all lovely”, not killing anyone, custard on the side, kite flying, Circus Ferrel,  Boo, banoffee, chopping wood, burning wood, hammock time, The Family Hull, “It’s all done with magnets”, mobile cubing, M25 queues, buttercups, soggy footwell, yarn shopping, porch collapse, cricket, buttercups, double dutch, volleyclub, scrambled Vs, longer walks, poker, needle breakage, crumble, Bungay’s Got Talent, buttercups.