Grevel Lindop

Poet, biographer, critic, essayist and writer on just about everything

Kerry Ribchester at Salsa Republic

Lorraine, Kerry and Noel - Hail to the Trinity of Cuban Dance Teachers!!!

Lorraine, Kerry and Noel - Hail to the Trinity of Cuban Dance Teachers!!!

Another great night last night at Les and Lorraine’s SALSA REPUBLIC in Chorlton, Manchester. Particular highlight this time was a workshop by Kerry Ribchester. Kerry is Director of Key2Cuba, an award-winning producer and director of Cuban music videos, and one of the country’s leading dance teachers and choreographers.

She’s an old friend of many of us in Manchester, and it was really exciting to have her here in her home city, giving us an intensive workshop in Rumba, Son and Salsa – and how to blend the three together. And she was joined, unscheduled, by Noel Hernandez, another leading teacher who just happened to be there and, as an old friend of Kerry, joined in. It was challenging but great fun and an excellent, confidence-building workout.

Amanda and I went to Cuba with Key2Cuba in 2008, shortly after I published Travels on the Dance Floor, and it’s certainly the most authentic and intimately Cuban holiday it’s possible to have with any tour provider. Most of my own travel has been solo and independent, but if you prefer to go with a group, and to have intensive salsa and Cuban dance classes laid on, plus transport to the best clubs and many other good things, key2Cuba is the way to go. It leaves other operators way behind.

Salsa Republic (run by Les Murray and Lorraine H. Mason) are this year offering not only their excellent monthly salsa party but are inviting a leading dance teacher each time, so you get the workshop as well as the party. The value is astonishing – last night we paid £10 for the whole evening. That basically means a Kerry Ribchester workshop for £3 (as usual, the party alone was £7). So look out for the next Salsa Republic – don’t know yet who the teacher will be but it will be good.

Meanwhile – don’t forget LOS VAN VAN, Leeds, 2 March! See you there!

Tom Rawling: Rediscovering Ennerdale’s Poet

I’m just back from a visit to Ennerdale – one of the most beautiful and least changed valleys in Lakeland. BBC TV’s Countryfile had called to ask if I’d be filmed talking about Tom Rawling, the wonderful Ennerdale poet, beside How Hall,the farmhouse where he spent so much of his childhood. (The programme goes out on 19 Feb. 2012).

How Hall, the Ennerdale farm where Rawling spent much of his childhood

Rawling (1916-96) was a magnificent poet – perhaps Cumbria’s best 20th century poet in my view – and, though largely forgotten at the end of his life, he’s been undergoing a renaissance of appreciation since his poems were reissued by the Lamplugh and District Heritage Society in 2009. The name may sound parochial, but believe me Rawling is a fine and perhaps major poet, bringing to life in vividly textured words the farming life of an earlier generation, the landscape and the fishing. All of it, as you read, is gritty and real enough to get your hands on, and profoundly beautiful at the same time.

(Do email and get hold of a copy of his poems – it’s only £7.50 and I’m sure will become a collector’s item in the future.)

I enjoyed meeting a very friendly BBC team, including producer Dean Jones and presenter Ellie Harrison, and despite the cameras, radio mics and freezing temperature we talked pretty spontaneously in the sunshine and open air, with a rich authentic odour of cow muck in the background (the farmer was manuring his fields at the time).


After filming I had a wonderful walk in the freezing air and bright sunshine around Ennerdale Water.

And the previous day, I’d taken time out to walk up in the snow to Bowscale Tarn, that amazingly dark, melancholy and beautiful place. I’ll put some pictures in here.


Snow on Haycock across Ennerdale Water; Angler's Crag in middle distance

Bowscale Tarn: a study in subtle blacks and whites just before sunset