Summer has arrived with some wonderful warm, dry weather. Perfect for spending the weekend in Eboracum (York) . We packed up the tent and awning and headed off over the Pennines. I had not been to this wonderful fortress before and I was struck by how similar it is to Deva; the river, the walls, the cathedral, or in York's case the Minster; lots of shops and of course tea rooms. Although as it was we didn't get much time to explore as we were kept busy entertaining the crowds in the Yorkshire Museum Gardens. The museum sits in beautiful grounds just outside the city walls and we were camping with a number of legions in a corner of the gardens where there had been a bowling green. We put up our beautiful tent on Friday evening. We had been positioned with the café just behind us. Has our reputation for being fond of cake got about, I wonder?
|Our home from home for the weekend.|
The festival was officially opened by the Mayor with an inspection of the troops and a rousing speech from the Emperor Hadrian. We then had a parade into and around the streets of Eboracum. The emperor gave another stirring speech outside the Minster while standing on a Roman column. By now we were all getting rather hot so once we got back to the Gardens, we had time for a quick drink of water before our first performance outside the museum. It was nice to dance our Tunisian dances and the audience loved our costumes. It was very easy to encourage them to join in with a scarf dance.
|Kebi and one of the Romans.|
|Kebi, Phoenece, Naima and Meroe just after the Tunisian set.|
Back at camp, Meroe set up her henna cushions and we were happy to chat to a number of locals and visitors to the city about where we fitted into the Roman period. We encouraged people to visit The Ivory Bangle lady who is in the museum. It has been shown she was a Berber, so it makes it easy to explain how people travelled vast distances across the Empire.
|Meroe with a henna customer.|
Our second dance set was an Egyptian one, and much as I love our Tunisian costume, it was a relief to change into our cooler galabeyas.
|Egyptian set in full swing.|
The next day was even hotter. We had not put up our awning on the Saturday as there didn't seem to be quite enough room. But with a bit of lateral thinking and a certain amount of persuasion, we put up the awning in front of the tent, and boy were we glad of its shade. We noticed later that it was also popular with our Emperor as well when we were away dancing.
|Emperor Hadrian just keeping an eye on our tent.....or cooling off perhaps!|
For me, the festival was also about new experiences and this weekend I came perilously close to learning how to play a cornu. Having been asked to look after it by our own Roman cornu player, I thought I'd give it a go - couldn't get a note out of it!
|Kebi and the cornu - stick the dancing Kebi!|
The festival was a huge success. The feedback we were given by the museum staff and Visit York was excellent. The public were interested and happy to get involved. We managed to get both cake and ice cream.
|It wouldn't be a Ya Raqs event with cake or icecream!|
We were told 15,000 people came through the gates on the Saturday. Already there is talk of next year being bigger and even better.