Log Book for 2009

What actually happened, before time takes its toll and surounds everything with a rosy glow


Christmas Gig at The Spring grove - 22nd December
No report available


Boxing Day tour of Claygate with Thames Valley Morris Men - 26th December
No report available

St George's Day at the George and Dragon Thames Ditton - 23rd April

Well done everybody, for contributing to a very successful evening. It felt really good to be able to call out a double side for dances and to include a couple of virgins on their first dance out, congratulations Ben and Simon.

It was a real privilege to award rosettes to Theresa and Glenis after their splendid double jig, my heartfelt congratulations go out to them. This should be an inspiration to all those who danced into the side last season to emulate their performance and earn your rosettes sometime during this season.

The side has moved on considerably during the winter, thought the repertoire hasn't widened very much it is clear that most dancers and musicians are much more familiar with it. The problem of choosing what to dance next no longer revolves around who knows what and who can play what. It all bodes well for the future and was, without doubt, an excellent start to the 2009 season.

St George's Day Parade and Street Fair Whitton - 25th April

A big thanks to all who turned out at the Weekend (nice to see Martin, a welcome boost to the orchestra). We were very lucky with the weather, the early morning threat of rain did not happen and the sun broke through after lunch. The procession in the parade was more fun than expected and the lunch break encouraged some of us to "pig out" with the hog roast at the Admiral Nelson. There was a good session at the top of the street despite the microphone interviews. The final spot at the Admiral Nelson pub finished with a spirited Upton upon Thames stick dance and a Bonny Green with audience participation. Ben and Simon continued the dancing in process taking comments about being virgins in good sport. Sorry no photos - I was too busy to take any this time.

Jenny's PR role paid off with a whopping collection. It's all good and we were finished in time for some of us to go lie down and digest all that pig.

Dancing the Sun Up on Box Hill - 1st May

What a glorious spring morning May first turned out to be this year. Steve's photos capture the atmosphere very well so go look at them on the Kodak site. This event keeps growing each year and on Friday morning we were joined by sides from Ewell St Mary, Rampant Rooster, Marlings Morris, Wild Hunt and Thames Valley Morris. And so more than seventy dancers and musicians were able to offer a mixed programme of dance from Cotswold Morris to North West Clog Morris and Border Morris. Dancing commenced at 5.15 a.m. with a procession to the top of Box hill and continued as a warm sun rose to burn off the mist in the Mole Valley below.

Ewell St Mary's members had coached some members of Epsom and Ewell Ramblers (who have formed a considerable part of our audience for the last few years) and they formed a scratch side to add single dance in the programme. We congratulate them and invite anyone interested to join us; contact us via the website.

There was a memorable event when Steve Nash, the last remaining original member of Spring Grove Morris Men, led the side out to mark 30 continuous years of dancing in the dawn on Box Hill.

We thank all those who turned out for this annual event and hope to see you all again next year.

Kingston May Merrie - 4th May

Well done everyone who turned out for Kingston May Merrie. We were not so lucky with the weather on Monday but it could have been worse, we just avoided the wet T shirt look. Four slots in the town centre and a lunch spot at The Boaters Inn was a big day out for a single side so it was a case of pacing ourselves throughout (I blame the Bagman, next year we'll elect someone who understands the word "rest" - Ed). Dancing five all-in Bonny Green Garters meant that we have probably taught a third of the population of Kingston how to dance Morris. At The Boaters Inn we took another opportunity to switch kit and dance as Spring Grove Morris with a lively Jockey to the Fair. (We were charm itself despite the lack of a promised lunch, and we couldn't order food either because the kitchen was backed up with orders - Ed). Mid afternoon, sustained by a nice cup of tea and a cake taken in the Parish Church, we ambled through a final spot. The well judged risk to attempt Ring O'Bells came off triumphantly. Audiences were appreciative and generous to Jenny's jiggling potty - We should have a handsome donation for Kingston Can (Kingston hospital's Cancer Charity) this year. Thanks to Steve for prompt posting of photographs - love the photo of an ecstatic squire who can't believe its all over. A good candidate for the caption competition treatment.

Once again, well done everyone. Its been a cracking start to the 2009 season so far. See you all in Richmond for the Tudor May Fair.

Richmond Tudor May Fair - 9th May

Another sunny day blessed our early season outing to the Richmond Fair. After a difficult start to the day dealing with a "one wheel on my wagon" scenario with the sticks trolley the day improved steadily as we made our presence felt at this traditional fair.

We collected for a brief warm up in The (mysteriously well hidden - Ed) Square before giving a short but well received set in front of the stage on the green. We were then invited to escort the May Queen and her Maids of Honour on a procession around Richmond. This went rather too far from the green to be much fun but we were seen around town as it were and enjoyed dancing thought the ranks of the military style band (144 Richmond Squadron Air Cadets with that Sergeant Major who lacked the smile gene - Ed) that led this short procession at one point in the journey. We finished the afternoon off dancing at the Princes Head where we met ex-member Sally Draycott and invited her to dance with us, and lastly the White Cross by the river where we met a number of pirate clad rugby fans drowning their sorrow over their teams defeat that morning at Twickenham. A number of said pirates joined us for a farewell Bonny Green Garters to end the day.

Thanks to Keith and Martin for the music and to all who danced, marched, collected and generally joined in the fun.

Bishop out of Residence - 11th May

Breezy but bright would be fair description of Monday evening at the Bishop out of Residence. There were few spectators braving the chill on the banks of the Thames but we danced to all corners and played to those drinking outside the Bishop and eating at whatever the restaurant is just down river of the pub. One of the drinkers joined centre stage as it were for The Valentine and several others joined in Bonny Green Garters to close the evening. The latter included one strange soul who sought spiritual release during the dance, we hope that he found it. Thanks to Gerry and Alan for music and to all who danced.

The Star, Chessington - 18th May, and Northwood Day of Dance - 16th May

There was a great turnout for Monday's evening gig at The Star, Chessington. It was sunny but rather cool and there seemed to be lots of enthusiasm to dance from members just needing to warm up. Our two new recruits danced in a new dance, The Rose Tree, they are rapidly adding to their experience this season and are looking good. We completed a good number of dances to a small but appreciative audience including a romantic Valentines. Jenny collected for our charity with her usual diligence and the potty finally contained £43.00. We sailed through Vandals with an immaculate hay unlike the experience of those of us who attended the Northwood day of dance on the previous weekend.

In the car park of one of the excellent country pubs on this tour I called this eight man dance with a motley side (at least four different sides mixed together). I was a bit apprehensive about the success of the hay when I glanced down the set and realized that there were nine men involved. When I turned at the bottom of the set half way through the hay there were only two dancers at this end and what I can only describe as a melee of seven dancers up near the musicians, seven dancers who clearly had no idea where they were going and little chance of returning to their place in set by the end of the hey. Our audience were obviously much amused and further enjoyed the almost equally appalling second attempt that I called and the dance ended with much ribald applause. All good fun and despite this shambles we were invited back to this event next year - perhaps we could manage to get a full side out for it.

Thames Court, Shepperton - 1st June

We had much better weather for David's gig up river in Shepperton at the Thames Court last week. It was a warm and pleasant evening in a livelier location and we even found an opportunity to dance on grass. Even with some absentees there were enough dancers for a well executed Vandals to close out our second set.

Congratulations to Sue, the third dancer to earn her rosettes this season dancing a solo jig. Thanks to Sue, Gerry, Alan and Colin for music and all who contributed to the dancing. Thanks also to Jenny who came up with another good haul in the potty working those potential donators to our charity.

Wych Elm, Kingston - 8th June

There was a very good turn out on Monday for an evening of dancing at the Wych Elm in Kingston. Enough in fact, with a guest performance by a Mick Sargeant, the bagman of Ewell St Mary's Morris Men, for a double side to dance one of our Bampton dances. The entire clientele of the Wych Elm, together with a couple of nearby neighbours, came out to watch us dance in front of the pub. The garden lawn was temporarily out-of-bounds because it has been entered in the pub garden of the year award and is due to be judged imminently.

The dancing was good, as were the pitchers of beer provided by the landlord and a regular customer during a breather break. Fully refreshed we resumed our programme ensuring that new dancers continued to gain experience of dancing out. Another Morris dancer, Dave Wilson, a veteran of Thames Valley Morris Men, joined us for our final dance, Bonny Green Garters. A number of the side concluded the evening with a quiet drink with the locals - quiet that is once the bells had come off.

Twickenham Festival - 13th June

What a glorious summer day we had for the Twickenham Festival (in sharp contrast to the torrential rain we endured last time we danced at this festival 2 years ago).

We did quite a lot of dancing at various spots around the Festival area, most of it to the right music. Organised spots at the farmers market, The Fox and St Mary's church in Church Street and the White Swan on Riverside were supplemented with impromptu events. At one point in the afternoon the side was hijacked by a local wedding - they never know what the Bride is letting herself in for when we offer to dance an appropriately romantic Fieldtown dance. We were also shamelessly encouraged to dance a couple of dances by the customers at the Barmy Arms.

We stood down after a final spot back in Church Street. Attempts to enjoy a quite beer after the event were thwarted by an over loud, under rehearsed band playing outside the Fox. There must have been something Morris in the air on Saturday, the side was well received at every spot, and as Christine and I walked back to the car we were offered bribes to dance for a couple who had missed us earlier in the day. We declined with grace and decorum - I never did get their real names.

Thanks go to Gerry, Sue, Colin and Alan for the music, and to all members for the dancing. Jenny sets a new record with the collection of over £200. Best wishes to the Bride and Groom. (The Festival organiser, Liz was so impressed by what we were doing that she added 50% to the agreed fee to say "thank you" - Ed.)

Datchet at Richmond - 15th June

Another great break with the weather (after spectacular storms) blessed this double header as guests of Datchet Morris. We started at the Princes Head on the corner of Richmond Green and ambled down later to the river at the White Cross. Well done to Sue and Glenis for the two handed jig (see attached photos) Thanks to Sue, Gerry, Alan and Colin for music - see next couple of emails for photos featuring various musicians without whom there would be no dancing.

Englefield Green Fair - 20th June

How do they manage it? Englefield Green's summer fair always attracts glorious weather. Colin's clever dancing strategy used the full arena to good advantage and spaced out the dances well. Between spots there was time for tea and cake and Simon had an opportunity to put his emergency first aid training into practice when an unfortunate man toppled his wheelchair into the ditch surrounding the green. The excitement was unabated. Despite the late running order we kept to our second time slot by queue jumping the men's tug of war - getting these pub teams together must be worse that herding Morris dancers. Well done everyone for participating in another successful event.

Midsummer Morris - 24th June

Well done Steve for organising this biannual event. Invited teams Ewell St Mary's, Thames Valley, Greensleeves, Yateley, some friends from other sides plus the Brian Tasker, a Hartley Man and Squire of the Morris Ring, and Fred Hands, a Wadard man and our regional rep, made for a crowded dancing programme. The inclusion of a number of mass dances provided quite a spectacle on the riverside at both locations (White Cross and Barmy Arms). (6 sets dancing! - Ed)

At the first spot it was our pleasure to award Simon his Baldrics for illustrating competence in a number of dances in his first season dancing out.

At the Barmy Arms the Squire of the Morris Ring danced Bonnets so Blue from Bucknell to Jim Beard's fiddle and thanks to the presence of one or two old boys (forgive the expression guys) there was chance for a double Spring Grove side dance - wow. And after the dancing (Steve had laid on food at the Barmy Arms) there was opportunity for reacquaintances and some impromptu music making. All in all it was a very special evening. Well done everyone.

Ham Tour - 29th June

Another balmy evening on the river with everyone on good form. We danced a full set at the The New Inn on Ham Common before drifting on down to The Boaters Inn. We danced a couple of sets there with a break during which the landlord laid on a very generous spread (Many thanks for that and the round of beer - much appreciated on a hot evening). Thanks to all dancers, musicians, shakers and collectors. Enjoy the pics - sorry Steve - just had to clone you out of the bands pic but I hear that you are getting plenty of coverage elsewhere. Hope that your back is on the mend Dave.

Tadworth Scouts - 2nd July

Did anything actually happen? Only those that were there can say.

Pure Technology, Leatherhead - 3nd July

This evening's gig was a good antidote to any tennis disappointment. Late evening sun, cool beer, barbie food, young families out for an entertaining time, a bucking bull and Morris Dancers - what's not to enjoy? Everyone was up for joining in and having a good time so we all had some fun. Thanks to all who made it to this one - commiserations to Theresa who had a very frustrating time not getting to it until it was all over.

Alan was the only dancer game enough for a ride on the bull and Steve was there to capture it on camera - my initial thoughts for a caption:

"It's such a bugger to park at some of these gigs I am just trying out alternative means of transport"

There is nothing like getting the Bull by the horns.

It's going to take some time to wipe that smile off his face this time.

--- but I have a feeling that this one will run and run.

The Weir Hotel - 7th July

With very little audience to entertain, this Monday dance out rapidly turned into an al fresco practice. It is time, I think, to start the debate about dancing out on a busier night of the week. It was rather cool but dry and we went through the majority of our more recent repertoire plus a few regulars to keep us all warm. Good to see Dave out again even if not yet fit to dance, and Simon got though Adderbury - Lads a Buncham without any damage, and that was his first time at the dance.

St Andrew's, Ham - 11th July

Our best efforts at the St Andrews garden party just about kept the rain at bay - well apart from a few spots I admit. We danced on to Bonny Green Garters and kept the crowd well entertained with a varied programme of dances from our repertoire. After a break for free beer and pig roast we went on for a second set including a jig featuring Theresa and Glenis and concluding with a vigorous eight dancers Vandals. Thanks to musicians that on this occasion included Martin - nice to see you out again and all dancers and supporters.

The Spring Grove Hotel - 20th July

There was a good turn out for our local evening dance in the Beer Garden of our Alma Mater - The Spring Grove Hotel. I borrowed an even more sophisticated video camera and we just about managed to get through a programme that included dances not captured on video last season before the rain returned. These included all our current traditions and a double jig by Theresa and Glenis. DVDs for practice information and general interest will be ready some time at the end of the season.

The Tide End Cottage and The Lion - 27th July

A better turn out and more audience than last year at The Tide End Cottage was nicely rounded off by a very lively dance in the garden of The Lion further up river at Hampton Wick. Friendly pub, good beer, both well kept and variety, garden big enough to dance in * and most importantly a receptive audience, all contributed to one of the better evenings out this season.

*(though Colin still managed to contrive to dance into the bar area)

Thames River Boat Tour - 9th August

Marvellous weather and an abundant and appreciative audience helped make the River Boat tour a success.

Admittedly it didn't start off well as Thames Valley and we had four and half dancers each and three musicians (Colin, Glenis, John and Sue, the half being Alan). So Bidford was us plus Mick, Adderbury us plus Steve, Bampton... you get the picture. And Thames Valley added either James (one or their musicians), or me (Colin). Vandals had two sets of four with the musicians in the middle and worked rather well, and Alan had to dance every dance - he must have been tired by the end. The dancing was remarkably good and excellent fun. The only blight was the hour's wait for food at the Ram (again). A bare six dancers made it to the last stand, the King's Arms at Lion Gate Hampton Court including John and myself. We were accompanied by a photographer who was taking all his pictures from ground level, quite a dangerous position. I would like to see the results if only for the unusual perspective.

Joke of the day from James:
Q. What's red and sits in the corner?
A. A naughty strawberry

Croyden Night of Dance - 18th August

Despite the tightness on numbers (seven dancers and a musician) this turned out to be a very successful tour. We met our hosts Thames Valley Morris, and sides from Ewell St. Mary Morris, Marlings Morris, Northwood Morris, Blackheath Morris and Old Palace Clog at the Builders Arms and performed turn and turn about outside the pub. With so many sides there was little chance that our reduced numbers would compromise our repertoire. An hour and a half later we gathered to process round the corner to a second venue the Glamorgan.

As well as being blessed with much better weather than two years ago, this event was better organised by TVMM this time. Keeping all sides together for the evening and restricting the tour to just two venues meant that sides short of dancers could dance in mixed sets and a large orchestra formed by all sides involved allowed Sue to get a dance or two with us in return for playing for others. A bunch of local employees who enjoyed this event last year were here again in force and joined in with a couple of dances. The clog side may have new recruit seen bravely dancing with them in fairly high heals. There were no massed dances except for a final Bonny Green Garters to close the evening out. We left quite late to drive back to Kingston leaving an enthusiastic "come all ye" music session still running in the Glamorgan's front bar. Our thanks to TVMM and all their guests for a most enjoyable evening.

Woodies Beer Festival - 22nd August

Fine weather, free beer vouchers, doorstop sandwiches for lunch - Woodies Bear Fest turned into a most successful outing for a side relying on less experienced dancers to entertain the crowd.

It was quite a small crowd at first as we danced on to Bonny Green Garters to announce our presence. We rapidly went through Ben's repertoire in the first set by which time Christine arrived to swell the dancers number to seven. After a break to sample the menu of beers, (42 different barrels of a wide range of real ales to choose from, and Dave had a choice of 5 different draught ciders) we danced a second set, closing with Bonny Green Garters with a couple of brave punters invited to learn a dance with us. The crowd was steadily building after lunch and we danced a third set between the dog show events finishing with the Upton upon Seven Stick Dance. This took us to 3pm and it was time for the rock bands to take over the entertainment.

Throughout the day we used a number of tactics to best use our limited resources. As well as the reduced version of Vandals with four dancers, we also danced our latest Bampton dance to two different tunes, Banbury Bill and Rose Tree, two tunes same dance, slightly different pace.

Thanks to Keith for all the music.
Well done to all dancers including a recovering Dave, Christine who also made an extra early trip to get the sticks to the venue, a brave Ben who is becoming more confident with each gig, and Glenis, Kate and Sue required to dance every dance including Vandals with four. Thanks also to Ben and his other half who wielded the potty to great effect. And finally thanks to Linda and her staff at Woodies who looked after us so well. I think we should mark this one in our diaries for next year now.

The Pilgrim with Rampant Rooster - 1st September

It was a very pleasant evening last Tuesday at the Pilgrim, Dorking, though the weather is starting to feel a little autumnal. The venue was not easy to find and some dancers arrived a bit late and Rampant Rooster got under way with a couple of stick dances.

We began dancing with Rose Tree/Banbury Bill supported by Rampant Rooster dancer Terry. As more people arrived we were able to dance our Bidford repertoire interlaced with Fieldtown and Adderbury favourites - I know just how much Keith loves that tune for Constant Billy. Our orchestra was expanded by a Banjo playing friend of Gerry's, who also joined us for the music session that followed the dancing. Colin and Sue joined Rampant Rooster in a double side for Saturday Night On, a dance that Spring Grove have used in the past to get the side on, one at a time. I suggest reviving this one during this winter's practice. Terry joined us again to make up the numbers for the closing dance, a mass Vandals of Hammerwich.

There was plenty of space in the bar for the musicians to gather for a bit of a session and although this started rather tentatively, with a bit of encouragement from Keith it became lively enough, with tunes and songs a plenty plus a bit of dancing thrown in for good measure.

Our thanks go to Rampant Rooster for a very pleasurable evening, and to Sue for organising this liaison. Well done all dancers, musicians and singers.

Kingston Carnival - 6th September

There was a delayed start to this years Kingston Carnival, but for the patient public it was worth the wait. There were a number of very colourful outfits representing a range of South American, African and Asian cultures. We were the sole representative of British music and dance and we did our best to pick out the rhythm of our musicians against the Samba drumming to perform small sections of Highland Mary, Bampton at regular intervals along the procession between Clarence Street and the market and Guildhall.

After a break for lunch at the Ram we danced in the riverside dining area at the corner of The Thames and The Hogsmill rivers, on the river bank at the Bishop out of Residence and finally in the triangular space that is the Apple Market oustide O'Neill's. We stood down mid afternoon to allow dancers to enjoy the rest of the entertainment including Bollywood song and dance and Hip Hop from Portugal. Our thanks to the musicians bravely playing against much louder instruments in other bands and well done all the dancers for demonstrating tenacity and stamina beyond the call of duty.

Wallington Farmers' Market - 12th September

This week we enjoyed another sunny morning dancing at the Wallington farmers' market on hopefully not the last fine weather weekend of the season. The side hasn't attended this event for a number of years and it was most reassuring that some members of an enthusiastic audience were heard to say that they had missed us in recent years. We were requested to dance out in front of the Town Hall to avoid clashing with the live music set up in the green area behind the hall. However, in an attempt to ensure that all the market stall owners got a view of the Morris we danced the Bidford snake around the entire town hall site. We danced two sessions with an intervening tea break (what no beer?) and then moved to the rear of the Hall just to dance a couple of dances for the cafe audience. Before standing down we had two goes at Bonny Green Garters to give all the kids a go at joining in the dance.

Well done everyone. Thank you Merlin for the side photo and David for the action shot of Highland Mary. Thanks to Gerry and Martin for music. My special thanks to all for dancing around the entire site, quite an exhausting prospect; I think we gave good value today. Looking forward to Spring Grove dancing at Yateley next week.

Yateley Day of Dance - 19th September

We have been very lucky with the weather this year when dancing out and Yateley's day of dance was no exception. We were grouped, on the A tour, with Thames Valley MM, Yateley MM and a lone member from Mendip Morris and the day got off to good start with a couple of spots in Reading town centre. The second of these was within glass carrying distance of the Hobgoblin pub and some refreshment was taken here.

A short coach drive later we stopped for more dancing at the Fisherman's Cottage, a pub on the towpath of the local canal. We were served a huge Chicken and chips lunch by very friendly bar staff and re-boarded the coach feeling rather heavier than we had set off.

We were grateful for a bit of a breather at the next venue, the museum of English rural life where we had a guided tour of some of their archive stock of smocks and other Morris memorabilia. It was in the gardens of this museum that I was briefly fooled into thinking that country member Graham Bungay had joined us late in the day but it turned out to be a scarecrow (Sorry Graham, hope you are feeling better, see you next year maybe.).

Next stop was the Frog and Wicket, a pub sited across the road from Eversley cricket field. One of the cricket teams seemed destined for a hammering following on from a score of 283 for 4 off 50 overs, they were only 13 for 2 as we left. Proceedings briefly watched by Yateley's horse.

After a well-received cup of tea at Yateley Manor School, both tour groups processed to the Dog and Partridge for the massed dance display in front of a goodly crowd, full of anticipation for the main event. We contributed a disciplined Shepherd's Hey, Bidford and a vigorous Jockey to the Fair, Brackley as our show dances. There was a side of rather younger men (Moulton Morris Men's Lads - Ed) who treated the crowd to a reckless and rather dangerous Upton upon Seven stick dance, deliberately trying to break their sticks, showing off with all the exuberance of youth.

Back to the school for the feast, moved from the familiar hall to the enormous and rather impersonal gym. I was amazed that I still had room for a steak pie meal followed by cheese with crackers washed down with real ale. Surprisingly, the size of the gym didn't hamper the atmosphere of the singing. Colin contributed an extremely complicated comic song, which succeeded in tying everyone's tongue.

All in all a very good day with pleasant venues and strong organisation by the Yateley side. Our thanks go to Martin for the music. He played every tune and got no chance to dance. Particular thanks to Alan, who's exceptional effort dancing with both TVMM and us often involving quick changes of kit. We really must try to avoid this kind of pressure in the future (or at least employ a dresser for the quick changes). Well done Simon and Ben who seemed to thoroughly enjoy their first day of dance. Thanks also to those veteran members, some of whom have been to more that twenty Yateley days.

Robert Muller - Squire