Sunday 30 November 2014

November Happiness

Five things which made me smile this month...
1. Being invited to the wedding of the year in the fairground world.
Carters Steam Fair Wedding
2. Meeting David Mitchell!
Duck meeting David Mitchell
3. Rescuing this little fella from the road in Weston Super Mare (I hope whoever lost him isn't too sad, we'll definitely take good care of him).
Rescued dinosaur
4. Getting a prime spot to watch one of the Carnival processions, safe and dry in a multi-storey car park.
Weston Super Mare Carnival procession 2014
5. Finishing my little knitted poppy (and it actually not looking half bad!)
Knitted poppy
What little things made you happy this month?

Saturday 29 November 2014

Top 20 Posts on Duck in a Dress

Over on Bluebell and Bumpkin last month, I spotted this post listing Beccy's top 10 posts. She in turn saw the same post over on Jasmin Charlotte and now here I am, changing things slightly by bringing you the top 20 posts (in terms of page views) here on Duck in a Dress.

Top 20 Posts on Duck in a Dress

{cue some cheesy Top 40 countdown music}

 This post surprised me; I went to a swishing event last year and it seems my post about the clothes I picked up was rather popular!

 A wander round some fireworks and Carnival floats with that cuddly little dude, Omnibear.

 I'm not sure why my first 10 'happy days' photos are so popular but there you go.

 John Lawson's Circus parked up only a couple of miles away last year and I managed to get a few pictures during the evening (there are pictures of clowns in the post though so don't click over there if you don't like them!)
 This was the other post about the same swishing event; it was a fab evening and one I hope they'll repeat sometime soon.
 Lots of Joe Brown's dresses in this post - all of which I've managed to wear throughout this summer!
14. 52 Lists - Favourite Quotes
I did this post a bit different, rather than just listing my favourite ones from famous people, I dug out my school leaving book and found my favourite quotes from teachers and classmates.
 This one was of the first few posts I put together, just after a week long holiday in Blackpool last April.
 I loved writing this post and I'd still love people to come and watch one of our Somerset Carnivals. I've shared it in quite a few places and I think it's been retweeted a few times so that's probably why it features quite high.

 I wasn't sure what to think when I was writing this one; I wanted to put out there exactly what it was like to go through but also didn't want to make anyone feel awkward, squeamish or just for the whole post to seem really bitter. I hope it worked.
 All the fun of the fairground in this post; we usually go every year although I had to miss this as it was only a week after I broke my ankle :-(
 My top 5 tips for distance learning, written just after I'd come back from one of my residential study schools in Aberystwyth.
 This was the first bloggy swap type thing I'd taken part in, putting together a package of summer sunshine for my swap partner.
 I'd wanted to feature my brother on here and this week seemed like a ideal opportunity. The post ended up being shared by several Down's Syndrome twitter accounts and I was surprised and amazed by the reaction it generated.
 This is one of the places we visit quite often in Cornwall, the coastal path is pretty stunning with old mine works, sweeping views and a selection of local wildlife.

 I really enjoyed taking part in this swap and ended up receiving probably the best thrifty present ever!

 The very first bloggy event I'd been invited to and it was a lovely day with plenty of photo opportunities around the house and estate.
 Last year's Pilton review - featuring fireworks, polar bears, lights, tightrope walkers, caterpillars, cottages and sunshine.
 One that got shared in quite a few places, my review of a Saturday spent talking libraries and networking seemed quite popular.

And in top position...

1. Wings and Wheels at Carters Steam Fair
 Basically a post all about the beauty of fairground art!
What's your favourite post from the list?
(or if you have one, what's the most viewed post from your blog?)

Thursday 27 November 2014

The Duck Guide to Gallopers

Hello boys and girls! Are you sitting comfortably?
Duck here is going to take you on a tour of these beautiful machines, springing up all around the country at the moment and helping to create a magical festive atmosphere in some of the UK's best towns and cities.
David Downs' Gallopers

In fact only this morning, one of them (the one above in fact) appeared in the centre of Bath where it'll be open for punters to take a ride until 14th December.

Carter's Gallopers
 The first thing you need to know is that {shock horror} they're not called Carousels.
At least, 99% of the time the ones you'll see in the British streets aren't called carousels.
A carousel is a very European and American term, originating from either the French carrousel or the Italian carosello (depending on which story you believe). Typically they'll turn anti-clockwise and often have two levels to them, much like this picture from Wikipedia.
Source: Wikipedia
In Britain they're called Gallopers (or a set of gallopers if you want to use the full name). In comparison to carousels, British ones only have one level and always rotate in a clockwise direction.
The name gallopers came from an era when ordinary working people couldn't afford their own horse and escaping to the fair to ride on a horse which went round and round with a galloping motion was a much needed bit of fun in their day to day lives.
David Downs' Gallopers

The other big giveaway is that on almost every ride (just like the one above), somewhere around the top will be written phrases along the lines of:
"glittering set of galloping horses"
"fleet of gallopers"
"golden gallopers"
"golden galloping horses"
 (although just to confuse you further, a few showmen have painted the word 'carousel' on them as that seems to be what the majority of society know the ride as)
Carter's Gallopers
The first set of gallopers were produced in the mid to late 1800s by a company called Savages who were based in Kings Lynn. Savages ended up being pretty much the leader in gallopers and other fairground rides of that period, in fact most of the preserved rides you'll see nowadays from that era were produced by them.

 There are still a few companies making the ride even today but obviously they don't hold quite the same nostalgia and history as the Victorian ones. The way to tell if a set is old or new is to look in the roof - if it's all wooden beams, then it's from a somewhat much earlier era; if it's all steel, then it's a replica ride produced in the last 30 or so years.

When they were made, most of the Victorian gallopers would have had an fairground organ in the middle of the ride playing all the popular chart hits from the 1890s. Most of them also would have been steam-powered and occasionally you'll still see one running on steam even today (look and see if there's anything coming out of the big funnel on top of the ride). Things have changed since the late 1800s though and all of the old sets of gallopers have been adapted to run on electric as well as steam. In the middle of the UK's Christmas markets, most of them will probably be running on electric and won't have a fairground organ inside - mainly because the organ is often worth more than the ride itself!
Carter's Gallopers

Some of the things you'll see on or around a set of gallopers include...

 Showman and Flattie

David Downs' Gallopers

On the left - one showman (aka. David Downs in front of his gallopers - probably the nicest and most lovely showman you'll ever meet). A showman is simply someone who's been involved with the fairground for a long time, usually several generations worth of families.
On the right - one flattie (aka. Andrew - who would dearly love to be a showman). A flattie is the opposite - us lot who haven't been involved with the fairground world.


David Downs' Gallopers

If you look up inside the ride, the roof is covered with a large orange and yellow striped sheet - that's the tilt - basically the sheet which covers the ride.

Rounding Boards, Domes and Droppers

David Downs' Gallopers

Look at the bit which says 'galloping', the flat bit around the edge of the ride at the top (the bit which usually contains the writing); these are the rounding boards (named for obvious reasons). Just above the rounding boards (the fancy decorative bit above the words) are domes and just below the wording (the intricate little mirror thingies) are droppers. The decoration and wording will probably be different on each machine you see and some rides sadly have even lost the fancy dome and dropper bits.


Carter's Gallopers

Bit tricky to spot in this picture but if you look at all the beams of wood criss-crossing in the roof under the tilt, they're called swifts.


David Downs' Gallopers

Fairly easy to see, flights are the pretty picture boards attached to the swifts and hanging down inside the ride. In the photo of the swifts above, the flights are all pictures of old English monarchs.


Carter's Gallopers
The centredrum is literally the centre of the ride; in the picture above it's decorated in mirrors and if you look closely just to the left in front of them, you can see the top of the steam engine poking out.


David Downs' Gallopers
The most obvious bit of the ride - mounts are the horses. You'll also sometimes find cockerels (and possibly other magical beasts) and the most common type of galloper set is one with mounts which are 3-abreast. On old sets, the mounts were all hand carved in wood and creating a galloping horse was a complete artisan skill in itself. The most renowned company of carvers were Andersons of Bristol who started out making figureheads for sailing ships.

 So there you go, everything you never wanted to know about those wonderful fairground machines (and if nothing else, it might come in handy for a pub quiz).
Having said all that though as well, if you do call it a carousel in front of a showman, they won't get annoyed or upset; all they'll do is just smile to themselves, roll their eyes and chuckle "ha, flatties" under their breath.
So, have you ridden on a set of gallopers recently?
(ps. if anyone from showland is reading this and wants to correct me, feel free to get in touch - I'm always up for learning new things!)

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Here Is The News #21

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance

Rebecca was amazed by what she saw at North Petherton Carnival the other week - anyone up for a cider and hot dog bloggy Carnival meet up next November?

Part two of Katie's Christmas Gift Guide looks at things for the male in your life - the beer bread and Captain America memory stick are pretty cool.

Samantha has a little bit of absolutely lovely news to share.

Rachael upcycled a record trolley and it's now sporting a fabulous shade of blue.

Sarah has a most wonderful announcement to make (and on a very important topic) and reading her post will leave you feeling both sad and happy at the same time.

Natalie wrote about lessons in self-esteem with some very wise words about being individual and not comparing yourself to others.

Vicky's post all about simplifying Christmas is very good - our Christmas shenanigans at the duckpond will be simpler this year but that's because at the moment, I still can't walk properly (and therefore stand for very long, carry anything, move anything about, etc., etc.)

And finally, not only has Katie only gone and been featured in a real life actual printed book, she's also found what must be the best crackers ever and on top of that, is having a little giveaway to celebrate!


Terry's Chocolate Orange Cookies? Yes please!

Sammie's Cranberry White Chocolate Truffles look fab - I wouldn't mind finding a packet of them in my stocking.

Debi's Chicken Fried Rice recipe looks so simple yet so tasty!

DIY Excellence

How cool are these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle baubles?

Eight and Sixteen have produced a round-up of some of the best festive decorations to make and also some fabulous gift wrap ideas (my favourite are the little washi tape flags).

Interesting Info

I've been enjoying watching Lucy Worsley and Len Goodman's 'Dancing Cheek to Cheek' programme on BBC4 and the Beeb have produced a timeline of 'dirty dances' to go along with it.

Blogs I've followed this week...

This Blog Is Not For You

A Wee Bit of Cake

Distract Me Now Please

What's new with you?

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Wedding of the Year

In my book, that took place last Saturday in Windsor with the party, speeches, cake, food and entertainment a few miles down the road in a circus big top on White Waltham Airfield.
It was time for the groom J to celebrate his wedding to his very-princess-like bride G surrounded by friends, family and pretty much everyone in fairground world.  
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Bride and Groom
Entrance to the big top was through a hall of mirrors with the father of the bride's 1896 fairground organ, 1948 Scammell Showtrac lorry and showman's steam engine just outside.
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Entrance to the Big Top

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - 1896 Fairground Organ
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Steam Engine

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Hall of mirrors

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - 1948 Scammell Showtrac

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Halll of mirrors
Once we were inside it was pretty amazing; we're heard some rumours on the jungle drums about what they had planned but we still didn't have much idea til we arrived.
Carters Steam Fair Wedding
Carters Steam Fair Wedding
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Bar
Middle of the tent contained Carter's Steam Fair's 1895 set of gallopers; on the left hand side was the bar, dancing area and Joby Carter's Grand Palance of Entertainment stage; on the right hand side were giant board games, an inflatable play area, an inflatable raised duelling area, food and buffet area, the wedding cake and birthday cake (as the bride got married on her birthday) and the bride and groom's new home, a Royal Windsor showman's living van. At the back of the tent was another inflatable play area and ball pool, face painting for the kids, toilets and moving around the tent was also a balloon modelling man. Any space left over was filled with table and chairs!
Carters Steam Fair Wedding

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Royal Windsor Living Van
Carters Steam Fair Wedding
Carters Steam Fair Wedding

Carters Steam Fair Wedding
We had an excellent selection of food; hog roast and salad about 5.30pm, followed by wedding cake then a hot dinner about 9.30pm (lasagne, bread, fish, chicken, potatoes and allsorts) and to finish, a choice of cheese and crackers, fruit salad or chocolate profiteroles for pudding.
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Cutting the wedding cake

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - wedding cake
Carters Steam Fair Wedding

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Profiteroles for pudding
In between all the food came the photos and speeches and then the entertainment. The MC for the evening was Richard Cadell (aka. the hand of Sooty) and he'd announced there was to be a very special guest, one that even the bride and groom didn't know about. Quarter of an hour later and who bursts out on the stage but none other than magician-legend Paul Daniels!
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - the bride with Paul Daniels
He did an excellent set, quite long and managing to get in lots of wedding-type jokes. Several tricks used the bride and lots of other audience members and later in the set he was joined by Debbie McGee for a couple of memory feats.
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee
Second bit of the entertainment was a live band, Bjorn to Be who performed all the classic Abba songs and danced away merrily with several people on the dance floor.
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Bjorn to Be performing
At the end of the night, as well as going home completely overstuffed with food, we all had bubble wands to play with!
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Bubble wands

Carters Steam Fair Wedding - Duck and Mr Duck
Carters Steam Fair Wedding
Carters Steam Fair Wedding - conga line around the gallopers
All in all, a fabulous wedding - congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Carter!
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