Five bean salad

Triangular lodge

Cake by Marian Gill, London 07762 593436

Cha-cha-cha, chunes and chocolate pud:
a celebratory weekend, 22-24 February 2013

One of the wonderful things about being a No 1 Lady, apart from the obvious shared accordion passion, is having the opportunity to play in counties and corners of England one may never otherwise venture to – Northamptonshire being a first for many of us, except Karen of course, as it was her stamping ground as a girl, learning accordion at the age of eleven from Joe Coll, who came to Wellingborough to recruit players for his accordion marching band.

  And ……..what a wonderful reason for an LAO weekend -  to celebrate and play for two events - Les Tweed’s 80th Birthday Ball, and a joint 160th Birthday celebration with his old friend, Roscommon man, Tom Conoboy.  So, in our gallant quest to support and preserve the Village halls of England, we spilled into our weekend base in the picturesque village of Rushton, laden with the usual home-made cakes, stews, puddings, tea-bags and the now regular speciality, Vicky’s 5 bean salad, which she has kindly allowed us to share with our readers. I guess  we might have been  mistaken for the local WI group  had it not been for the twenty plus accordions and related paraphernalia!

Well, what a joy and privilege to play some of our favourite tunes for Karen’s dad, Les Tweed and his fellow dancing partners in the Grampian club in Corby – apparently he travels 20 miles more than once a week to dancing classes run by  Shelley Davis, and trips about the floor like a 20 year old, with a lovely waltz, tango and quick step – all impressively step perfect. So, our Finnish tango 'Yo Saaristosa', ‘El Choclo’, the Schottishes and the waltzes, ‘Amelie’, and ‘Robin’s Waltz’, fitted the bill, and Les happily danced the night away with Karen and later, those few Ladies who managed to stay awake. What a man !

  En route to Northampton Sunday morning for the grand finale of the weekend’s birthday celebrations, a merry band of ‘women in white’, extremely chilled, in the cold sense of the word, were spotted peering over the wall of Rushton’s famous and fascinating Triangular Lodge, a bizarre Elizabethan folly, its 3 sides, 3 floors and 3 windows each side, echoing the Holy Trinity – such a pity it was closed, but good to share the photo.

  From the 1970’s to the ‘90’s, Les and old friend Tom, (along with Karen’s late mum and many others) shared a love of the vibrant Irish scene in Northampton, so it was very fitting to celebrate their 160 glorious years there, with concert and ceilidh of a distinct Irish flavour, where along with the LAO, (in their new accordion mitts – orders to clever member Annie), guests performed informally – Peter Mc Alinden on whistle, Douglas Caird on accordion, Kevin Dempsey, Karen and friends, all rounded off with a  ceilidh  in the evening, and a spot of Old-Time.

 Over the past few months, the orchestra has welcomed quite a few new members, who have slotted quite easily into the mix, and some of the No 1 Ladies have gathered for regional practices either side of the great divide – the Northern lasses and the Southern belles……, but it’s fabulous when we can all meet together with Karen to iron out the dodgy notes, timings and dynamics , and move the odd player around to balance out the sections, with the delicious thoughts of cake breaks, but only when note perfect of course!!!

 So…the wonderful LAO continues to grow and flourish, and as ever, it’s a privilege and musical joy to spend time in the company of the Ladies, friends and audiences. A huge thanks to Karen for all her hard work behind the scenes, organizing such a happy and memorable weekend for her Dad, family and friends.

Happy 80th Birthday Mr Tweed!

by Helen Roe