Log Book for 2010

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

Reports are normally by the Squire, Robert Muller, if he was not present the report was written by the person named.
Beer Festival at The Harrow Caterham on the Hill - 10th October
Well done all who turned out for this event. We benefited from really fine weather for this time of year as the photos will show. The range of beers on offer was wide and included some unusual choices.
I apologise for not checking that someone was responsible for bringing the sticks - I'll try not to make that mistake again.
Having said that we danced three sets with mostly handkerchief dances and made the most of an imaginary Bidford stick dance and a couple of twig dances climaxing with an hilarious Upton upon Seven.
All our efforts were enthusiastically received by the festival go-ers, gratefully acknowledged by the landlord and witnessed by that morris legend Roy Dommett.

Kingston Town Centre Christmas Lights Switch-On - 19th November

A case of mistiming. The light switch-on event finished at 7.00pm and we planned to start 8.00pm, so as we arrived to dance the people streamed home.  We danced our Christmas selection at one stand in the Ancient Market.  Steve's sparkler version of Fieldtown Signposts was a great success made even better by Kate's extra-long sparklers.  As we finished the only people left were our audience so we headed off to the Ram for a restorative pint and Robert's Christmas Pies, just in time for the band to start-up.  After 5 minutes of not being able to hear each other speak we were stood down and headed off home.  Perhaps we should start earlier next time.
Colin Messer
Shooting Star Children's Hospice Christmas Fair and Rosemary Lodge Care Home - 12th December
Last chance in the decade to thank you all for your contribution to Off-Spring and Spring Grove events. Thanks to Steve for organising another successful Christmas meal (9th December ) and congratulations to Jenny our Morris person of the year.

Thames Valley Morris were very appreciative of those Spring Grovers that turned out to join them on Saturday 12th for a lunch time charity dance in Kingston town centre. Both sides combined to dance a varied programme while official collectors for Shooting Star Children's Hospice hefted huge buckets. All involved declared it a successful gig. Off Spring met later that afternoon to entertain folk at the Rosemary Lodge home. We went through most of our Christmas Carol repertoire and received an enthusiastic response.

The Spring Grove - 21st December
We also got a good reception at the Spring Grove on December 21st, both for the dancing and the musical session that followed. It was good to see such a turn out despite the atrocious weather. The band was supplemented by several guests and included a surprisingly varied percussion section. There was much to enjoy and I extend my commiseration to those who were prevented by the snow from joining us for this most festive evening. Best wishes to all for the new decade - what will it be called, the teeniess perhaps?
Robert Muller
(Very proud) Squire of Off Spring and Spring Grove Morris


Boxing Day Tour of Claygate Village - 26th December
Colin, Ben and Keith supported Thames Valley MM, with Alan in TVMM kit, and Christine and Theresa who came along to watch we had six present.  There were excellent crowds at all the spots including the Folley Arms, the home of TVMM that is scheduled for re-development.   At the Winning Horse we persuaded Thames Valley to join us dancing a Spring Grove favourite Young Collins - Bidford, that turned out to be a most entertaining dance.  All said and done it was a successful outing and we acquitted ourselves well.
Colin Messer
Circle Dance Christmas Party - 9th January
Costas, an old Spring Grove dancer, invited us to dance at his Greek Circle Christmas Party.  He couldn't have known that we would have the coldest weather and most snow in twenty years.  Of the 60 people invited only 20 made it.  We were most grateful to Roger Green, Spring Grove country member of Beachy Head Brewery fame, and Chris Benson of Greensleeves MM who played pipe and tabor for us.  We danced Young Collins - Bidford, Highland Mary - Bampton and the Upton upon Severn stick dance with Colin providing educational interludes while we got our breath back.  The circle dancing was as ever both interesting and accessible and at times unbelievably complex.  A great joy of the evening was discovering what a lovely dancer Ben's wife Toni is, clearly more able at circle dancing than the rest of us. 
Colin Messer


Photo Session with Pete Muller - 22nd February

Pete has a lot of gear, big lights, reflectors, artificial grass, and of course cameras.  He was looking for morris men dancing in a face-off against some urban break dancers and sorted out a few pictures for us to use in our publicity, promising to send us a CD of the photos he had taken.  Those that remembered to turn out in kit could join in.  Those that didn't had to sit out the session.


Pete took some seated shots and groups for us, then some posed shoots focusing on David Seager, who I guess exemplified all that is English in a Morris Men, and some action shots with the side jumping on the air.  It's always interesting to see what other artists see in us.


Pete's website is www.petemuller.co.uk.

Colin Messer

St George's Day at The George & Dragon, Thames Ditton - 23rd April

At last the winter is over and a new season of dance begins. The George and Dragon has been a good venue to kick start our season in recent years and last Friday was no exception.  Our several arrivals, on this bright sunny evening, were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd with cheers of encouragement and anticipation. Thanks to our foreman we had a varied programme of dance to offer that, I hope, satisfied the expectations of the audience.  We danced on to Bonny Green Garters and kept the action going with dances in the traditions of Bidford, Fieldtown, Bampton and Adderbury. After a slightly uneven Lichfield, Rig O’ Bells we took a well earned break for refreshment. Confidence from winter practise was apparent in most dances, with just a few requiring more work though the season.


We restarted with Fieldtown, Valentines in response to requests to join in the dance from a couple of maidens in the audience. I’m not sure that they knew what there were letting themselves in for but their response was very sporting. We had a good enough turn out to dance with two sets for Shepherds Hey, Bidford. And, at last, Off-Spring Morris was able to field an all female side for the very first time as the ladies danced Bampton, Highland Mary. This was followed by an all male gig by our foreman Colin Messer.


It was the Squire's pleasure and privilege to present Baldrics to Ben Izard who has proved competence in the required number of dances.

We are grateful to the musicians who form our growing orchestra and look forward to the rest of the season with pleasurable anticipation. 


St George's Day Parade, Whitton - 24th April

The following morning, a rather more select side enjoyed the lovely spring day that occurred for Whitton’s St George’s day parade. There was an impressive turn out of local organisations and a number of brass bands led by a mounted St George (who on closer inspection turned out to be woman). One group completed the entire parade on stilts.


We received a great reception from the crowds in the high street as we processed and danced where appropriate. We were encouraged to dance again at the end of the procession at the top of the high street and performed a couple more outside The Nelson after a short refreshment break.

Dance the Sun Up on Box Hill - 1st May
Although not as bright and sunny as last year it was still a very pleasant morning for us all to gather with our friends from Rampant Rooster and Ewell St Marys on Box Hill., May First. It was cool enough for us to want to keep dancing our most vigorous dances to keep warm. With only three sides out on this occasion, turns came round quickly enough.

We entertained a small crowd, (no ramblers this year), with our various individual dances and a mass Vandals and Upton upon Seven stick dance. A Motley side danced an Adderbury dance and a Spring Grove Morris set danced with an Off Spring Morris set on this, the tenth anniversary of the formation of our mixed side Off Spring.
After the farewell Bonny Green Garters and the obligatory group photos (just to prove to ourselves that we were actually there) Off Spring / Spring Grove enjoyed a traditional ‘al fresco’ breakfast while other sides moved off to continue dancing elsewhere. Comments about the abundance of bacon and the continued absence of our mascot were, I feel, in bad taste. The bacon, however, tasted great.

Kingston May Merrie - 3rd May

Rather more wintery weather greeted us for a day of dancing in Kingston for the May Merrie. This was a good opportunity to get through our expanded repertoire. We danced four, thirty minute spots, and, apart from Morris on and off, we only repeated three dances. (One of those so that I could have another go at calling it correctly).

A climbing wall provided an unmissable photo opportunity (see attached pics) but apart from this the chill factor seemed to put a bit of a dampener on this Merrie event. We were politely asked to stop playing in the Druid’s Head but encouraged to dance inside Boaters – not enough room to swing a cat so we braved the chill and danced in front of the glass doors to entertain those unwilling to join us outside. Bonny Green Garters for all enticed an international family group which included a Russian, a Ukrainian, and an American to join in the dance.
Richmond May Fair - 7th May
It was wet and cold again for the Richmond Tudor May Fayre but the warm up session 11.00 a.m. at the Quadrant helped to dispel the chill (for the dancers that is – see photo of rather chilly musicians). We sensibly stuck to a set of dances from the more familiar area of our repertoire for the stage performance. See photos of the new, pneumatic stage awning. We concluded the session on the grass in front of the stage with the ever popular Upton stick dance and a Bonny Green Garters for all to join in. Careful to avoid the procession of the May Queen around Richmond, the side moved on to the Prince’s Head at the corner of Richmond Green for another set of our more adventurous dances. The weather was obviously not going to clear up so we called off a planned move to the White Cross and stood down at about half past one o'clock.
The Cricketers at Cobham  - 10th May
It was dry but still rather chilly on the edge of Downside Common near Cobham on Monday evening as we entertained a training/conference group at the Cricketers. This was another opportunity for international interaction, best illustrated as we danced Postman’s Knock, (Fieldtown) with volunteers from our audience counting up to three in Portuguese, Dutch and other languages. We also got the audience to participate in Valentines Fieldtown) and Bonny Green Garters (Bampton) before the chill drove us all back into the pub. After some refreshment the side braved the weather again for a short set trying out a couple of this years new dances, one of which, it seems is not yet ready for dancing out with an audience. “Needs some work still” was a fair comment on our attempt at Step Back (Fieldtown). Back in the pub, those that stayed enjoyed a pleasant “chin wag” before driving back to Kingston. Sorry no photos of this event – too busy dancing.  (Ed - Steve worked the crowd like a master; stormin' gig!)
Kingston Riverside: Boaters & Bishop - 17th May
It was almost late spring-like weather and we enjoyed a pleasant evening dancing down by the river in Kingston, first at The Boaters Inn and then at The Bishop out of Residence. We danced through a varied programme to a small but extremely enthusiastic audience. (Actually two young maidens all too eager to join in the dance. They succeeded in confusing the entire side during a Bidford dance.) Inevitably these girls were swept up into a Fieldtown Valentines dance which probably sated their appetite for Morris for two lifetimes, but the men enjoyed it all.
I took out my trusty Cannon camera to capture the evening atmosphere only to discover that it had no flash storage chip in it.  I had left this essential component attached to my computer at work. Undaunted, I took a couple of snaps with my mobile phone. These were sent via bluetooth technology to my Mac and I attach them now to this email (isn't 21st century technology wonderful).
After our first session of dancing we tucked into Tony's un-birthdays cakes (Ed - who would have suspected the skills of a chef pâtissier resided in our fiddler) and some ale before moving to the second venue where Alan Bull appeared as Steve Nash departed. The Bishop wasn't very busy this evening either, but we danced to a select audience including a couple from Saudi who together with a small gang of young people joined us in a Bonny Green Garters. The side stood down about  10.30 p.m. and more ale was consumed to round off a an enjoyable gig. My thanks to all who contributed to this evening. see you again on Sunday at Ham Common.


Ham House 400th Celebration - 23rd May

In the absence of Robert (get well soon) and Colin today I thought I would write up the event.
Firstly it was nice to welcome back Eric and Joyce who despite their border bias in Australia fitted straight back in to the Cotswold style of dancing.
I was very proud to be a member of Off-Spring today as I thought the music and dancing were excellent.  The first spot outside the New Inn was a good warm up and Pat did ever so well under beginners pressure from the alerted audience.
The Ham Common spot went well and it was good to get the children in for the final dance.  The new very impressive pig made his first appearance and we look forward to a formal re-introduction of said animal at one of the events this summer. 
The procession to Ham House was a bit of a non event but our dancing entrance through the newly opened gates was well received, so much so that we had to re-enact Winster for the cameras. 
The best spot was in the grounds of Ham House where dancers, despite being tired and hot, rallied to produce four brilliant dances that engaged the very large audience.  We were cheered and in my view deservedly so as you all did so well.  The mass Bonnie Green Garters was great and made everyone smile.  It may sound a bit old hat but events like today make morris so worthwhile.
We then retired to the New Inn for some well deserved refreshment.  Well done everyone
Steve Nash
The Plough at Leigh - 27th May

The Plough at Leigh had a number of great features: good beer, an area out the front where we could dance, and a room we could all fit in for a song and music session afterwards.  The only aspect missing was an audience, so it was lucky we had each other to provide the encouraging feedback we crave, and luckier still it was Mick Sergeant providing it.

Spring Grove arrived first and being well mannered we waited until enough Ewell had gathered to dance.  A surprise was the arrival of Jim Illingworth and Paul Leyland.  Paul hadn’t danced with us since 1999 when he succumbed to the ravages of six children; he danced well, and as he is now retired and as his children are older we might see him again – I certainly hope so.  After dancing we took a couple of group photos then retired to play and sing.

Notable mentions to Jim Beard in the session and Sue’s lovely song and Jim Illingworth’s entertaining dancing in Sweet Jenny Jones.   With a turnout of 13 we had a strong side, and with Ewell we had a lovely evening, and one I hope happens again.

Colin Messer
The Watermill, Dorking - 1st June
We were stretched and it was damp but very good fun, with a jolly crowd of Roosters in a lovely setting under misty Box Hill. With Gerry and Tony (and Chris) playing, the rest of us (John, Ben, Glenis, Ian, David, Marian and me) danced Highland Mary, Young Collins, Adderbury Constant Billy, Banbury Bill, Banks of the Dee, a very respectable Vandals with Roosters playing (well done Marian!) and Balance the straw as a mass dance to finish.
Sue Benson
Spring Grove Pub - 7th June

A return to our Alma Mater, The Spring Grove, turned a damp squib due to the weather into a fun evening.  The staff helped pull back the tables to provide a space and we happily danced away.   We had a good run though the repertoire and a useful practise of Bonnets for Blue for five that we only had to re-start a couple of times to get to the end.  A first set of dances, some interval music, then the second set of dances and we put back the tables for music and song.  Of note was Ring O’Bells that is settling in well, Sign Posts to Chris Benson’s pipe, Sue and Chris Benson sung a lovely duet and Alan, in excellent voice, sung the Bonny Black Hare.


Colin Messer


Twickenham Festival - 12th June

An excellent day spent investigating the nooks and crannies of Twickenham, drinking beer, eating cake and some giving some splendid performances.


We met in the Farmers' Market next to the cake stall and warmed up the audience with a few tunes. Dead on 11 o'clock we started the show while Marian ably stepped into Jenny shoes and took charge of collecting.  Tony played solo for Vandals to finish the set and we left for the Fox in Church Street.


A change of ownership at the Fox has seen Tom leave and with his departure the early opening hours as well.  We were left dehydrating outside, forced to dance again while we waited for the doors to open; as they did we drew the dance to a close and we nipped inside for some beer.  The Twickenham fine Ales were well kept, and although there was a 4 for the price of 3 deal on ale, 10 drinks served later we had ordered only 2 pints.  What is this team coming to.


A chat with the David Marlow Twickenham's Mayor and then lunch at St Mary's, pims and an entertaining set followed by a wander over to Eel Pie Island.  The programme reported an event at the environmental office in Phoenix Wharf, but it was just one stall and two lonely volunteers manning it.  After three dances we were invited to Richmond Yacht Club where we danced precariously near the edge of the boarding, and were handsomely rewarded with tea and cake.


Back over to the mainland to dance at the Barmy Arms where we watched the high tide creep ever higher.  I wanted a picture of us dancing in front of the Italianate Fountain, known locally as The Naked Ladies, but the high tide had flooded the path.  So after admiring the cars parked in the flooded lane and a lad swimming along next to them, we gave one last entertaining performance in Church Street before retiring to the Fox for a restorative pint and heading off home.  Some advice, the Betty Stoges tasted like old damp rags, so if that isn’t to your taste stick to the Twickenham Ales.


It was a happy event and must be one of the most popular of the programme. We had a great reception everywhere we danced, and the collection reflected how much our efforts were appreciated.  I look forward to seeing how much Marian collected.  Well done everyone.


Colin Messer


Thames Court, Shepperton with Thames Valley Morris Men - 14th June

Early evening rain discouraged the fair-weather punters leaving the smokers who watched while feeding their habit.  The grass was wet and there were large flower pots where we danced last time so we moved some tables under the umbrellas and got on with the show.  There was a little mixing in, with Alan in TVMM kit calling Highland Mary, Colin joined in Step Back with TVMM, and Mick Sergeant in mufti added to the joie de vie for Sweet Jenny Jones.   We danced a respectable Signposts and with Sue’s guidance an unexpectedly long Headington Constant Billy, but mostly we just danced for each other’s pleasure finishing with a massed Nutting Girl jig.  A pleasant evening spent with friends.


Colin Messer


Midsummer Morris Evening of Dance - 24th June
A big thank you to all those who could come last night.  As usual the venues and weather combined brilliantly to make the evening a lovely experience.  Both Old Palace Clog and Ellington were very appreciative and enjoyed our company and hospitality. 
The inclusion of Scooby at the White Cross added to the entertainment in a slightly bizarre way!  Rumour is that we had a generous collection as well.  The dancing was always fun and Signpost was the stand out dance for the right reasons.
Well done all


Richmond with Datchet - 28th June

After last nights morris event in Richmond with Datchet I have a number of apologies to circulate.


The weather for being dry and warm

The landlord of the White Cross for supplying free beer

The camaraderie between the two sides

Ian for sticking to his one unit of alcohol diet

John for walking three miles to his taxi with the sticks

Christine for counting the money too quickly and agreeing to transfer a further £3000 to Spring Grove

Marianne for collecting too enthusiastically

Sue for calling Constant Billy Headington faultlessly

Gerry for not mentioning England's result

David for always going clockwise

Tony for shouting too much

Ben for smiling too much

Alan for his relationship with Highland Mary

Chris for playing solo

Keith for allowing Gerry and Sue to do more dancing

Steve for telling the audience that Datchet blacked up because their good looks might cause the women watching to swoon.


All in all a disastrous night not enjoyed by anybody for which we are truly sorry.




Skimmington Castle, Reigate - 5th July

Organised, disciplined?  No, that was the other lot, and a fine display of dancing it was that East Surrey gave us, while Spring Grove excelled in the fun and entertaining end of the spectrum. 


We had seven dancers with Sue playing.  Our ranks were swelled by the Brian Tasker, Squire of the Morris Ring; and Robert, Chris and Marian came along and provided some welcome support.  There were two quite brief stands, enough for three dances each with Signposts, Balance the Straw and the pirate version of Vandals standing out as quality performances.  Sadly East Surrey’s musicians elected  to not join us playing either for the Morris or when we played a few tunes afterwards, but this didn’t spoil a fine evening and we were happy to accept the free beer, sausages and chips provided.


The Squire of East Surrey expressed his thanks for our visit and said they would be happy to accept a return invitation to dance in Kingston next year.  What will those country boys make of the big city?




Russian Wedding, Hampton Court, 10th July

The gig in Hampton Court was, by any measure, a success.  Thanks and congratulations are due to Ben, Christine, Glenis, John, Robert and Sue for their dancing, to Glenis, Robert and Sue for the announcing and calling and to Keith for his musicianship and for his numerous other contributions.  It was good to see Robert back in his role as Squire after his recent absence.


Everyone arrived, almost simultaneously, at the venue, a minute or two before the specified time of 8.30 p.m.  We really need to ensure this doesn't happen again, it will ruin our reputation!!


We made contact with Julie, the 'master of ceremonies' who confirmed that we could go 'off-site' provided we were back by 9.20 p.m.  We set off in the direction of the Albion pub but were diverted to The Prince of Wales where we were given an ecstatic welcome by a party celebration for a girl who was enjoying both her birthday and the receipt of a 1st class honours degree in Business Law. 


We practised some of the dances planned for the Wedding Party including a six-dancer Vandals of Hammerwich.  This dance we need to add to our repertoire.  It is a 'normal' Vandals but with six dancers.  In the heading up and heading down, the four dancers nearest the direction of dance do a line-of-four and the remaining two centre themselves behind the line.  I think it looks surprisingly good.  The dance ends at the show following the "extremely fast back to back"; thus omitting the Lichfield Hey.  The turn up and delayed show is the same as the final steps of the normal Vandals.  it is, obviously, a shorter dance than the full vandals and could on some occasions be danced even if we had eight dancers out.


On our return to the wedding venue, it was obvious the "who killed the white rabbit" was running a bit late but eventually we danced on to Bonny Green Garters and  were immediately joined by a combination of excited children and more excited adults, including a very outgoing new Zealand lady.


It was obvious that their idea of some participation and ours were at some variance and we had to revise our programme to accommodate their wishes.  As my Managing Director keeps saying "the customer is not always right, but he is always the customer".  I wonder how some of the more 'stuffy' sides (you may guess, I couldn't possibly comment) would have coped with the competition for dance space.


In the end they let us dance the stick dances and the jig (thanks to Sue and Glenis for an excellent rendition of the Nutting Girl) in exchange for two sets of the Bonny Green Garters.  We danced two spots, the first of five dances, including the jig; and the second of three dances.  We closed, as planned at 10.30 p.m. and executed a rapid transition back to the Prince of Wales.


Julie pronounced that our show was 'great', and wished us well.


A very pleasant Squire's round at the Prince of Wales concluded a very enjoyable evening; thanks to all involved.  We await the receipt of the bank transfer for £200.00 to round off the occasion.


David Seager

Dog & Fox Wimbledon and The Green Man Putney with Greensleeves Morris Men - 16th July

I rather liked the pubs in Wimbledon Village, and the six real ales at the Brewery Tap kept me amused while I waited for the tour to start over the road at the Dog and Fox.  Rather than our laid-back attitude toward Morris timing, Greensleeves kept to time with military efficiency.  At 8 o’clock on the dot Greensleeves kicked off a vigorous and accurate Vandals.  After a swift discussion between David, Sue and Colin, the three of us present, we settled on Colin dancing and Sue playing for a creditable Bucknell Bonnets So Blue while the rest of the side arrived and belled up., including a welcome return of Robert to the ranks of the dancers.


The dances followed in rapid succession, with Tony, Jim and Chris Benson providing music.  Then a massed Fieldtown Balance the Straw, and we finished with Bonny Green Garters.  We got though our standard number of dances, with two sides dancing.  That was a lot of dances.


On to the Green Man where we kicked of the second session with Glenis calling Banbury Bill, Kate calling our more relaxed version of Vandals and Sue, Glenis and Theresa dancing a beautiful three handed Nutting Girl to Jim and Tony’s fiddles.  Greensleeves displayed a Fieldtown dance to the tune of Greensleeves with an interesting sticking chorus.


The evening finished with a couple of jugs of free beer from the landlord and a music session before we headed off home.  Overall we put on one of our better performances during an excellent evening’s dancing, and Greensleeves were vigorous, fun, friendly and a pleasure to dance with.  Let’s do it again.





The Royal Marine Lyne with Thames Valley Morris Men - 20 July

Thank goodness for SatNav technology which made finding the Royal Marine relatively easy. Spring Grove MM were a bit tight on numbers for this invitation to dance with Thames Valley MM so the gig was opened up to the mixed side of Off-Spring Morris.


We danced a long first session with both sides mixing in together for some dances including mass dances. Our Bidford dances adding a distinctive edge to Off-Spring's contribution. We were pleased to be joined by two dancers from London Pride MM together with a musician to swell the ranks of a fine orchestra for the evening. London Pride dancer Alan at 73 is still dancing with considerable vigour (Colin's favourite descriptive word for good Morris Dancing).


After a brief drinks break all dancers were up for more as the daylight faded into the relative darkness of a fine summer night.


We attempted a four man Vandals in a final mass dance which confused all involved in a slowed down second half of the hey - much to the amusement of our audience. The traditional farewell Bonny Green Garters, with invite for all to join in, included a member of a female Cotswold side, (I've unfortunately forgotten the name of her side).


So we enjoyed a thoroughly pleasant evening dancing with our friends from TVMM and others, thanks to them and the many musicians who played for us.

School House Lane Orchard Fair - 24th July

At the weekend, we danced in the orchard in School Lane, Hampton Wick for a small summer fair. We danced on to Bonny Green Garters and, despite the mid afternoon heat, danced some of our most energetic dances to the obvious enjoyment of the family crowds. After a short refreshment break we invited all willing volunteers to dance Bonny Green Garters with us. We followed up with a good variety of stick and handkerchief dances, finally dancing off in the snake in Young Collins, Bidford to considerable applause from a grateful audience.

Thanks to all who turned out for this gig. It was nice to see Jenny up and about and making good use of the potty in collecting for our charities. Thanks to Colin for informative (and at times extremely inventive) announcements about the dances between dances  
Spring Grove Kingston - 2nd August
A well attended event, both performers and audience.  It was nice to see John and the sticks who had intended to come on Tuesday 3rd till a change of heart brought them out a day earlier.  Robert "Spielburg" Muller recorded video footage until the light faded, and we danced The Valentine to a delightful young lady.  A surprise visit from Keith entertained the audience at the end, I think his songs were rewarded with louder applause than the dancing.
Colin Messer
Woodies, New Malden - 21st August
It was overcast but, thankfully, dry all afternoon last weekend for Woodies beer festival. We provided the early entertainment before 3p.m. when the music licence kicked in and bands with microphones and amplifiers increased the volume and contemporary nature of the fun.. We danced three sessions with appropriate refreshment interludes. As the afternoon wore on, the potential audience increased and in the second session an enthusiastic, young bunch of volunteers joined the side to dance Bonny Green Garters. We ended the third session snaking off at the end of Young Collins to generous applause.
We thank the staff at Woodies for their friendly welcome, for a delicious platter of sandwiches for lunch, and for ample vouchers for free beer. We sampled and compared a number of the good beers of southern England. Several of the side stayed on after being stood down to listen to the bands and use up the stock of vouchers. Well done and thanks to all dancers and musicians ( I particularly enjoyed the sense of movement to the rhythm by Sue and Tony which gave a feel of fluidity to our performances), and thanks to Christine for organising this gig.

Wedding, New Malden Cricket Club - 28th August
There is something special about performing at a wedding reception - always a captive and uninhibited audience for a start. Well, this gig was no exception and all who turned out had a very good time. We gave a good account of ourselves as surprise entertainment, dancing on the edge of the cricket pitch with our audience on the balcony of the clubhouse. Steve was on good form doing the wedding adapted schpeal, changing the names of our dances to appropriate titles - Getting Up Stairs, Haste to the Wedding etc. This was a pointer, perhaps, to the need to reintroduce these dances into our repertoire. We managed a spirited five man Valentine with the happy bride and finished with a massive turnout for Bony Green Garters. Gerry and Tony coped well with the confusing calls for dances that they had never heard of to tunes they knew well as other things. So with a couple of free beers and a sticky bun thrown in, it was Morris Heaven.
Yateley Day of Dance - 18th September

We enjoyed a splendid day of dancing as guests of Yateley Morris Men last Saturday. The weather remained sunny but cool throughout the day - ideal dancing conditions. After mustering with tea and biscuits on offer, we joined the Basingstoke tour bus with a Yateley side plus Thames Valley MM and Sun Oak Clog. First spot was likely to my least favourite, Festival Place shopping centre.  Dancing on hard marble flooring in a busy contemporary shopping mall doesn't seem very Morris some how.  However there was an appreciative audience and the side, augmented by country member Graham Bungay and quick change specialist Alan Bull, danced Constant Billy (Adderbury), Young Collins (Bidford), and Highland Mary (Bampton) with considerable aplomb.


There was one very scary incident when we recognised an ex-member of Spring Grove Morris Men in the audience. I had taken a small album of photographs that I had come across the week before, of a Winchester MM tour of the New Forrest some time in the late eighties or early nineties. Yateley MM were on that tour as well as Spring Grove so I was hopeful that one of these dancers might identify the year of this tour. Spring Grove men David, Alan, Ian, and Graham had glanced through them and recognised our dancers including one John Lawrence not seen for over 20 years. And here he was coming forward to greet us as though he had just left the side. That, I feel, was stretching coincidence considerably.


By mid morning we were in more Morris-like Territory, The Bolton Arms, Old Basing and the pub was open and serving free beer, hurrah! Next was another pub The Millstone were we danced and had our lunch, then after lunch we made a visit to Millstones Museum where we danced on reconstructed cobblestones to an audience including volunteers wearing Victorian clothing.


There was time for one more pub before tea. At the Frog and Wicket the side's latest musician Tony played Nutting Girl jig for Sue to dance and thereby earned his baldricks and rosettes. It was my privilege as squire of the side to present this honour with as much ceremony as I could muster.


It was a very short drive from the Frog and Wicket back to Yateley for tea followed by a procession to the mass dancing site outside the Dog and Partridge. All guest sides danced individual show dances and joined Yateley in mass dances of Balance the Straw (Fieldtown) and Banbury Bill (Bampton) in which Off Spring Morris went that extra mile to finish the dance off properly.


Finally we returned to Yateley's practise venue at Manor School for feasting and entertainment. Sue and Tony sang and played banjo respectively for our supper in fine style. The personalised verse in Sue's song went down very well and I am sure earned us an invite to Yateley's day of dance next year.


Back to that set of ancient photographs, I finally established a reliable date for the event. The current Squire of Yateley Morris men, B.J.Crossman recognised his little boy of five at the time in a couple of the photographs, all kitted out in Yateley Morris gear. "He was fascinated by the Morris as a kid. He's 25 now but never did join the side"


So a big thank you to dancers, musicians and supporters who joined this event. I hope that you all enjoyed it as much as I did. I was proud of the sides performance throughout the day.


Surbiton Festival with Greensleeves Morris Men, then a Beer Festival at The Albert Kingston Hill  - 25th September

We were lucky again with the weather for our last gig of the season before the AGM in sunny, but cool, Surbiton. We supported Greensleeves Morris Men in two short dancing spots in front of Surbiton Station. Dancing and presentation was good and included mass dances of Balance the Straw and the Upton upon Seven stick dance and concluded with a mixed side Bonny Green Garters. In between these two spots we formed up with other local organisations for a procession down the hill into Surbiton. We successfully avoided the two brass bands in the procession being placed behind the vintage car contingent. I am not sure if this position was intended to comment on the age of the Morris Men and Women in our parade but Greensleeves set up a wide Winster processional, changing with every phrase right across the width of the road. This was maintained from the top of the hill to the final turn in the main street and a goodly crowd were, I am sure, quite impressed.  


This is the second successful gig with our neighbours Greensleeves MM who seem more comfortable now to dance with a mixed sex side like Off-Spring Morris. We look forward to more collaborations in the 2011 season.


Later that afternoon we were invited to Kingston pub, The Albert, to entertain those attending a beer festival and good food weekend. In return for free beer and barbecue we danced a short spot in the car park. Some tiredness had set in resulting in our dancing one dance to the tune of another but the small crowd was none the wiser and applauded generously. They eagerly joined in a farewell Bonny Green Garters and at least one took details of the forthcoming recruitment taster.

Spring Grove Morris,
18 May 2015, 14:55