by Nina La Bonche
The Buddle Arts Centre became my crèche when I was about 7 years old. It was a circus haven where we would all go and get stuck in. We could go there at any time of the day and do whatever we felt like – for me it was usually training my aerial, but there were so many people with different skills to share that you that you could learn practically anything!
I remember trying out acrobalance, staff, diabolo (see photo) and occasionally wobbling my way along a tightrope, either being taught by others who came to play or going to the busy, fast-paced workshops. Even the things which I was nervous to try out made up a huge part of my experience at the Buddle; I would go and watch whip-cracking or juggling (sometimes with knives!) or even hacky-sack marathons. It didn’t end there either, there were constant performances, events and scratch shows featuring mermaids, time machines, musical gardens and once or twice even some giant flies! These shows were the most memorable thing for me as my mum would often make the costumes, a process involving a terrifying amount of shouting at sewing machines, endless cutting out, and continuous trying on, taking off and adjusting of costumes. It would take over my entire house but end product made the final performances completely magical.
Despite the various mishaps, including a slightly stinky rat infestation, an ‘invisible’ skip denting minibus and the failure of the electrics which finally condemned the place, the Buddle gave rise the North East circus family which we know today and for me it was a second home where anything was possible.