Log Book for 2012

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

After 10 years of dry summers and insufficient rain during the winter, there was a drought decleared across most of England. Then April became wet and May wetter.  June was the wettest since records began, the drought was over and the floods were here. July started the same way until the London Olympics at the end of July when the rain finally shifted, summer arrived and folks fled to warmer climes. As the Olympics retreated back into memory so the rain returned making 2012 the wettest summer on record and the second wettest year since records began.  To have kept a positive outlook throughout the dancing season under such an onslaught is a credit to the side.
Morris Try-outs - 3rd and 10th October
Seven people came along to the Morris Try-outs and over two evenings learnt Adderbury Lads-a-Buncham and Bidford Abraham Brown. Steve led an introduction to the side emphasising that we are fun side, and Colin gave a history of the Morris and a look at a year in a the life of the side. At each session we demonstrated Lads a Buncham, Abraham Brown and the Manx sword dance. If only we had time to sort out a demonstration set before the event if would look a little more professional, but everyone said we were welcoming which is just as important. After the Try-outs we were happy to invite six of the seven to join us for the practise season.
Hampton Hill Christmas Parade with Thames Valley Morris Men - 25th November
This year's Hampton Hill Christmas Parade was balmy by comparison with last year's, as the tail of one of the warmest Novembers since 1914 hung on in South-East England. A good group of Spring Grove Morris Men and Thames Valley Morris Men met in The Star and with the street thronging with crowds we started dancing at 6:30pm until the procession came through at 7:30pm when there was time for another pint. Father Christmas by the dozen, dogs in fairy lights and numerous vehicles. After the procession passed the crowds were still partying in the street so we danced for another half hour until the road opened. We stayed on for a final pint outside The Star and headed off at 9pm. The high point was provided by a group of 10 teenage girls who wanted to have a go at Morris dancing, the moment was captured by one of them and a photo [here] published on facebook of them dancing to great applause Bampton - Constant Billy taught by John Walsh. The generous collection from the wealthy denizens of Hampton Hill went to the Revive Africa charity.
Rosemary Lodge Care Home - 3rd December
No record survives of this event - draw your own conclusions. (Ed.)
Christmas Dinner at Merit - 15th December
A delightful dinner with the side and their guests. Merits lived up to its well deserved reputation as friendly, professional and delicious. After the dinner Steve presented three bottles of Beachy Head Christmas Jumper, brewed by Roger Green a past member, to Colin Messer this year's Morris Person of the Year, and by general acclaim all wished to hold Christmas dinner 2012 at Merits, so it must have been good. Then a smaller party adjourned to the Cabbage Patch for final drink or two before heading off home.
Christmas Ale at the Spring Grove - 19th December
The new landlord of the Spring Grove cleared a space at the back and we happily danced away. Special mentions for Steve who led a great evening, our guest musicians Mark Ward and Chris Benson and our new dancers, Alastair, Lesley, Phil and Sara all four of whom took to the floor. Finally my personal thanks to the landlord who provided hot mince pies. Yum!
Claygate Boxing Day with Thames Valley Morris Men - 26th December
The warm dry weather continued over Christmas and brought out a fair sized audience for the Claygate Boxing Day tour. Spring Grove were represented by Robert and Colin in kit and Alan who took on the blue plumage of Thames Valley often seen on Boxing Day during the cold winter months. The Swan opened early, and we danced to a good crowd who seemed unusually free to barrack Thames Valley’s fool. The main dancing took place in the village rather than at the first pub and The Hare and Hounds is always best attended for which we were rewarded with free beer. One lady remarked that she had been out on Boxing day for over forty years, she use to bring her children and now her grand children come along as well – a heart warming thought. At the Winning Horse Robert, Alan and Colin led a Bidford – Young Collins, and then on to the Griffin where as the dancing came to an end a marvellous repast was produced. This year Thames Valley had an unusually large number of musicians, as well as a cake bearer, hobby horse and fool, so I think they were quite grateful that Robert and I were there to lend a hand with the dancing. Always an enjoyable day, and as the last dance of 2011 it didn’t disappoint.
Seething Wells Parade - 26th February
What a wonderful turnout today. It was a lovely springlike day and there was an atmosphere of relaxed fun and enjoyment at Seething Wells. The various ‘guilds’ had made a huge effort with their costumes, larger than life characters and puppets. As they were preparing, we danced a short session of three dances- Young Collins, a nine person Highland Mary, which still requires some fine tuning and Vandals. It was good to have Robert back and he nobly called Young Collins and Ben called Vandals brilliantly. We were allocated a position behind the talc miners in the procession, as we were also wearing white. Other guilds included the taxonomists, the water bearers, the pilchard fishermen and the curriers. A good number of spectators emerged from pubs and shops or waved from windows en route. Well done to Sara, Lesley and Phil for performing in their first public dance-out and thank you to musicians Gerry, Tony, Sue and Alan and to all the dancers, who included Alan, Ben, Robert, Dave, Laurie and Sue and to Jenny, who helped entertain the children. After the procession everyone gathered in Jewson’s yard for a welcome drink, more musical entertainment and the story of the goat boy Lefi Ganderson and the evil giant, Thamas Deeton. The collection was split between the International Youth Arts Festival and our charity, The British Heart Foundation.
Woodcraft Folk, New Malden - 15th March
The Woodcraft Folk session went very well last night and a big thanks to Glenis, David and Ian for their support. We were faced with thirty children with ages ranging from six to fifteen with slightly more girls than boys. We divided them up into groups of six and, with the help of Pat, a former Off-Spring member, taught them Young Collins Bidford. As we only had 14 short sticks we improvised somewhat with the help of a clutch of painting brushes. Each team in turn performed the dance with varying degrees of success though they all did pretty well given the short instruction time. The curtain was brought down by all the helpers performing a set which the children thoroughly enjoyed, possibly for the wrong reasons given the misinterpretation by some dancers of the instruction to dance rounds in a clockwise direction! Woodcraft were kind enough to offer payment so we accepted a cheque for £50 payable to the British Heart foundation. We retired to the Royal Oak afterwards where we enjoyed the £5.99 pint and curry offer.
St George's Day Parade, Whitton - 21st April
Whitton continues to provide a relaxed and happy outing. We gave an entertaining procession in the sun, with a variety of moves finishing off with backwards Bampton. The AmDram group behind and rugby club ahead joined in with the spirit of our processional dance, and a couple of rugby players even joined in with our dancing. A pint in the Admiral Nelson and the first stand came together with all the dances working well. A break for lunch while a shower threatened but never materialised, and the second stand was danced in the sunshine. A good first outing for Kathy, Lesley, Phil and Sara who acquitted themselves well, and I was pleased with Upton Hanky also on a first outing. We were joined by Tony who added to the music that helped free Sue for calling and dancing.
St George's Day at the George and Dragon, Thames Ditton - 23rd April
There was a great turnout (18! - ed) for this annual event despite the persistent rain which, though lighter than last year’s downpour, still kept our musicians sheltering under umbrellas throughout the evening. We opened the dancing with a Bonny Green Garters dance-on which morphed into a nine person formation for Highland Mary – Bampton. The programme of dances continued without a break and included much of the material that Colin had worked on throughout this winters practice. This gave opportunity for new members to dance into the side including our latest recruit David who, after only a few weeks practice, acquitted himself extremely proficiently.
Spring Grove Morris Men emerged to dance their version of Valentines complete with volunteer maiden, Helen. Steve later informed me that this lady used to be married to Paul Evans who was one of the original Spring Grove Morris Men. She had moved back south from Huddersfield, spotted our kit, and recognised Steve among the dancers. It’s a small world indeed.
Well done all those new dancers who added a smattering of non-baldric wearing dancers to many of the evening’s dances and many thanks to the musicians who kept the event running smoothly from beneath those sheltering umbrellas. (I have feeling that this will not be the last wet gig we will encounter this year, drought or no drought.) Our host Landlord did us proud again this year with platters piled high with sausages and chips and an ale on the house. Three cheers for The George and Dragon.
Rosemary Lodge Care Home - 30th April
It was clear to Chris and I, and all the staff, that everyone really enjoyed it, as they always do enjoy the Morris. As promised we ran over the essential points before each dance, and Lesley's crib notes were very helpful indeed to keep us straight on more than one occasion. David - a very welcome unexpected extra, meant we could dance Vandals, which everyone enjoyed. We also danced Bidford - Young Collins and Abraham Brown, Bampton - Highland Mary and Adderbury - Bluebells. Thanks to Chris for playing throughout, and dancing Fieldtown - Nutting Girl jig in impressive style, to give us a rest.
Dance the Sun Up, Box Hill - 1st May
First arrivals at the car park on Box Hill did so in darkness and heavy rainfall. All agreed that the weather was “the worst on May first in living memory”. As more and more dancers arrived it became obvious that those blasphemous thoughts of calling it all off and going home dry were impossible. We were here and we were going to dance in the May come whatever. In view of the dismal outlook Spring Grove foregoed leading the procession from the car park and instead we all assembled on the traditional dancing site on the road overlooking the viewing point and Mole Valley. Kingston Morris stripped down to dancing kit and began the dancing with a steady Bampton dance, Highland Mary. Ewell St Mary Morris Men followed with an eight man stick dance and Rampant Rooster then offered two sides for a short stick dance that involved swapping sticks, a manoeuvre fraught with danger due to wet sticks.
Despite the weather it was gratifying to see that we had indeed attracted an audience. Several brave people, appropriately dressed, were there to applaud and encourage us on. Their many warm layers drew envious glances from the dancers and some members of one side (no names) were tempted into dancing with extra waterproof layers on. Musicians wore waterproofs and sheltered under umbrellas to keep their instruments dry.
There was a mass long stick dance, (The Vandals of Hammerwich) in which several Thames Valley Morris Men joined us in what had become a wet-shirt event. Spring Grove Morris Men celebrated their 33rd continuous presence on Box Hill on May morning with a fine rendition of Bidford Shepherds' Hey.  The dancing continued with excellent sets from all sides present and closed with a mass Bonny Green Garters.  As the sides gathered for the traditional photographs at Salomond’s Monument Sue led us in a defiant rendering of Hal-an-Tow which maintains that “summer is a coming in and winter’s gone away-o.” And indeed it had, at this point, stopped raining though it was still cold and blustery. All thoughts of breakfast barbecue were dispensed with and after sharing a brew of tea or coffee we dispersed. Driving home in still soaking clothes through early morning traffic I had time to reflect that taking a set of fresh dry clothing might be a good idea next year as well as a thought to leave a suggestion at Box Hill amenities to the effect that a fully equipped shower block might be a welcome addition to the facilities offered by the café on the hill.
Kingston May Merrie - 7th May
As I left the house to walk into Kingston for the May Merrie festivities the first drops of rain fell. Here we go again I thought, and indeed as the Spring Grove Morris Men and Kingston Morris gathered in the market square, it began to rain with more determination. We were given a magnificent build up in our introduction by the MC for this first spot linking May Merrie with Morris Dance since 1507 and so on. In response to this “bigging-up” we stripped down to the kit and danced a pretty good Highland Mary and followed this up with Bidford and Adderbury dances as well as an Upton upon Seven hanky dance in fine style. We finished the set with an interactive Bonny Green Garters and made our way to the Bishop out of Residence for a leisurely lunch break. Our second spot at the West end of Clarence Street was just as successful with a good crowd gathered round to cheer us on. Novice dancers performed well and the audience was given a rest from Cotswold dances whilst Colin led the side in the Manx Sword Dance happily now a regular feature in our repertoire. We had time before our third and final spot to visit The Parish Church of All Saints for tea and cake. Our patronage at this venue could be seen as some repayment for the Churches support in the 16th Century when they supplied funds to kit out the Morris dancers of the day. There was just time to catch Jacob and his partner singing in the church before meeting in the centre of Clarence Street for our final performance of the day. Joy oh joy, the sun finally made an appearance. The clouds dispersed and our whites gleamed as we rounded off a splendid day with a swashbuckling set concluding with a Bonny Green Garters that invited all comers to join in the dance.
Richmond May Fair - 12th May
Richmond Fair was surprisingly dry for our 31st consecutive annual performance, after all the rain of the previous week and the Green was packed with people determined to enjoy themselves including members of Kingston Morris.  The side wisely practiced a few dances in The Quadrant before trying their luck on the stage.  This was a new experience for recent recruits to the side especially as the stage is quite high off the ground and seems precariously small once you are leaping about on it.  The dances went without mishap and as always the finale on the grass in front of the stage went down well with all the watchers mainly because some of their nearest and dearest had been coerced into trying their luck at Bonney Green Garters.  The side moved onto the Prince's Head by the side of the Green and then down to the White Cross by the river.  The pub was frequented by hundreds of rugby fans on their way to the Middlesex Sevens.  The RFU style police had dictated that they come dressed in 70’s fashion and one group from the North East were so brilliantly attired in purple and red silks that they were a natural addition to our dancing repertoire. Cries of "Wey aye man!" as sticks were hurtled around in a fairly random manner added a certain piquancy to the performance though it may be difficult to replicate the moves at any future practice sessions.
Richmond Tour with Datchet Border Morris - 21th May
An enjoyable evening with Datchet, returning again to the Prince's Head and White Star. (Ed)
North Kingston Tour of the Willoughby Arms and Wych Elm - 28th May
The weather was delightful and the company excellent. Sara entertained us with her acrobatic skills by turing her ankle and the dances came thick and fast. In both the Willoughby and the Wych Elm we danced in their back garden. The lightly attending public, that we outnumbered 5 to 1, showed great appreciation even when we acknowledged certain figures could be improved upon and repeated them. We left feeling well prepared for Saturday's Twickenham Festival.
The Plough at Leigh with Ewell St Mary's Morris Men - 31st May
It was, as ever, a delight to dance with Ewell and the music and singing afterwards in the Plough was memorable. Ewell stuck to renditions of their eight-man Ewell tradition while we explored Bidford, Lichfield and Bampton. Phil danced a creditable Shepherd's Hey Bidford having never danced the bellows hey before, and Mick, Ewell's Squire, was happy to declare we were the best morris side that wasn't Ewell he'd seen all evening. A great song and music session followed with some noteable contributions from Gerry, Tony and Colin.
Twickenham Riverside Jubilee Festival - 2nd June
[Report place holder] It was a brilliant day, great atmosphere, huge and enthusiastic audiences and it was lovely to be asked by members of the public throughout the day where and when were we going to be dancing next. All the new dancers did fantastically well, we older members shared the calling, Laurie did a great job as MC and Sue organised us all brilliantly. We started in chilly drizzle at the farmers' market, but the weather and audiences warmed up steadily to bright sunshine and big crowds outside St Mary's and at the Barmy Arms. We arrived early at The Fox in Church Street and effectively did two sessions there, as there was so much interest. We also found ourselves committed to dancing on the cobbled slope outside St Mary's - sorry about that, and I hope the knees that were suffering afterwards recover soon. Sara, Kathy, Lesley, Phil and Id, you were all brilliant. Sara looked great with graceful arms and careful stepping to protect the bruised foot (hope it continues to recover) and we'll definitely get you in Vandals next time, Id. Alan, Glenis, John, Robert thank you all for calling and dancing expertly; Laurie you were a fantastic announcer :-) and Gerry and Tony played brilliantly as always. Thank you to everyone who went round with the potty. From the collection for our charity, we gave a contribution to the fête's charity, the Samaritans, for a Jubilee cake that had been reserved especially for us! A big thank you too to Robert, who saved the day and took three of us, the sticks, the pig, the megaphone, the potty, the money and the cake home!
Glenis and Sue 
Surbiton Jubilee Street Parties - 4th June
We were very warmly received, there were good audiences and there was enthusiastic participation in BGG at both venues. It was fun to be part of the celebrations and to witness the effort and organisation which had gone into decorating the houses, tables, participants and cakes! The organisers have asked me to pass on their thanks to you and each street donated £50 towards our charity. Well done to Kathy for being awarded her baldrics and lovely that the Mayor was able to present them to her and well done, Alastair for making your public debut. Thank you also, Tony, for playing and enabling Sue to dance.
Thaxted Ring Meeting - 8th-10th June
A strong side had lined up for Thaxted and for the more recent recruits it was an opportunity to see some top quality sides, Westminster and Whitchurch who never fail to please, and the remarkable Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.  The early arrivals met for dinner then headed off to sample the pubs.  Colin headed off to watch the dancing at the Star and joined Jockey who were short while Ben, David and Phil stayed drinking in the Maypole.  At closing time the dancing drew to a close at the Star and a music and song session kicked off in the Maypole finishing around 2am. 
The next day after a full English breakfast we met up with Alastair, Ian, Robert, Steve and headed for the coach where Gerry and Tony were waiting for us.  As we started for the first pub we learnt that John’s car had broken down and he was being towed back home.  The stands came thick and fast, around 15 min’s drive apart through the delightful Essex countryside, admiring the old cottages and decorative pargetting.  At each stand there was usually time for just one dance each, a Bonny Green Garters and sometimes a massed dance before we were back on the coach.  The other dancers were friendly and we adopted the Overseas Bagman, Nigel Strudwick of Devil’s Dyke who was by himself, for a few dances.  The combination of Tony’s fiddle and Gerry’s melodeon worked well against the single fiddle or melodeon of the other sides.  Six pubs, a shepherds’ pie lunch and excellent beers brought us back to Thaxted for tea.  Steve made sure that everyone had a chance to dance and we showed off a good part of our repertoire.  Early evening the sides processed from either side of the town, we started from the church, to the guildhall where the crowd had gathered and the 13 sides put on their best dances; we showed Young Collins Bidford.  The Feast and some songs followed then we were back out for the second half where we danced Vandals of Hammerwich Lichfield.  The 18-30 group put on some great shows, it was good to see morris being danced by young men.  The Cotswold dancing drew to a close, the street lights were tuned off and as the crowd fell silent we heard a fiddle playing the haunting Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.  The dancers moved through the crowd into the centre and went through a number of turns of the dance before leading off and the bringing the day’s dancing to a close.  At the Maypole there was a song session so popular it was hard to get through the door. 
On Sunday, Gerry, Phil and Tony stayed for the procession and dancing at the church. 
I was grateful that apart from a few spots of rain the weather was kind to us.  It was great weekend, we should do more of them. 
The Roebuck, Richmond - 13th June
On a relatively barmy night compared to recent evenings Kingston Morris assembled opposite the Roebuck pub on Richmond Hill. John's choice of venue was brilliant with the famous view of the Thames winding its way round Petersham Meadows below and the slowly setting sun in the west. The team out was John, Ian, Glenis, Lesley, Ben, Phil, David, Steve, Alan and the music ably provided by Gerry, Sue, Tony and Mark. A lively audience watched the two spots none more so than the two young men who entered into the spirit of the Upton Stick Dance even if they didn't have a clue as to what was going on throughout most of the dance. Their companion Stef was the perfect foil for Valentines and responded in kind to the liberal interpretation given to some of the Fieldtown moves danced around her. The audience were very generous in their support for the British Heart Foundation and everyone appeared to have a thoroughly good night.
Evening of Dance - 20th June
Capitalising on a break in the extraordinary wet weather of June 2012 on an almost balmy evening Kingston Morris hosted their midsummer morris extravaganza and lifted the spirits in Richmond and Twickenham.

We were delighted to welcome Greensleeves Morris Men, Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men, Ellington Morris and Phoenix Clog to the banks of the Thames outside the White Cross in Richmond and the Barmy Arms in Twickenham. Kingston Morris was well supported with 15 members and was comfortably able to put out two sets for some of the dances. There were several firsts including Gerry, who hails from Glasgow, playing his melodeon while wearing a kilt of Scotland’s national tartan. Several efforts were made to elicit exactly what he was wearing under his kilt and whilst there was never an official answer several Kingston women dancers appeared to be smiling rather too much as the evening progressed.##We were delighted to award Sara her baldric sashes who we believe is the first dancer from Las Vegas to take up the morris. She is a great addition to the side and promises to be a brilliant dancer. Glenis, Mark , David(ID), Lesley and Phil all enjoyed their first midsummer tour which was rounded off by a rapidly disappearing buffet at the Barmy Arms. Thanks to our guests for playing their part and performing some interesting and well received dances.  The whole evening can be summarized by the chap who followed us from Richmond to Twickenham because we all looked to be having so much fun and he found the camaraderie and atmosphere addictive, and a nice bonus as we collected £48 for The British Heart Foundation.

Painshill Park - 25th June
Painshill Park is a delightful place.  It has quite extensive beautifully laid out grounds, should the invitation come around again I heartily recommend we get a side there. In the end David and I were sole representatives, even so Thames Valley were most appreciative of any additional numbers. A shower was just ending as we gathered, but there after the the sun shone until it was time to depart when another 5 minute shower interrupted play. Four stands including a vintage care rally, an Indian wedding, some Hogsback Brewery beer and ice-creams. I call that a good day.
The New Inn, Ham and The Boaters, Canbury Park - 26th June
Does morris get any better than this?

A truly balmy night in every sense.  Kingston Morris lined up with three musicians and twelve dancers, one of whom (Robert) was still unfortunately sidelined by tendinitis.  A small but appreciative crowd assembled at the New Inn at Ham to see the side perform its regular dancing programme. A steady stream of cars also turned off the main road so the occupants could enjoy our performance.   On to Boaters we moved where a surprisingly large number of customers were relaxing by the Thames set against the backcloth of a fine sunset shrouded by various tints of red reflecting on the clouds.  The foreman let loose and we undertook what some might describe as a varied and brave programme of dances that included the Recruiting Sergeant, Sweet Jenny Jones, the Upton Hanky Dance, the sword dance and the 29th May. Richard, the landlord provided a round of drinks which spurred us on to greater efforts culminating in a Valentines danced round Alex, a particularly attractive Canadian woman who was cheered on throughout the dance by her three compatriots. By this time we had the audience with us and several joined us for Bonnie Green Garters.  All the dancers and musicians added to what turned out to be a very memorable evening. The laughter and smiles generated by our interpretation of some of the dances was something to behold.

Morris on!


Fox and Duck & Ham Brewery Tap, Petersham - 5th July
Kingston Morris break new ground on Independence Day.
Kingston Morris performed at the Fox and Duck for the first time. The dancing spot in front of the pub was well received mostly by a cavalcade of cars and buses hurtling between Kingston and Richmond! The sparse audience did get into the spirit of the night which was centred on July 4th celebrations in honour of Sara, our American dancer. The Squire, in his profound wisdom, threw several of the newer dancers into the programme mix with varying degrees of success. This form of accelerated learning was ably supported by the more experienced dancers.

Onward to the Ham Brewery Tap for the second spot where a very appreciative, if not slightly inebriated, audience awaited. The new dancers buoyed up by their experience at the first spot threw themselves into every new dance they were invited to join though their facial expressions moved from puzzlement to panic but to their credit they all completed the dances.  Id's face during his first attempt at The Valentine should have been captured on film as he approached the two rather experienced all embracing maidens in the middle of the set.  Well done to Gerry for organising the event.


Long Ditton Village Fair- 8th July
David says that the good weather is the luck of the morris and certainly that's how it felt at Long Ditton as we arrived to dance.   The incessant rain lifted and the sun came out; perfect weather that lasted until we left when the clouds gathered and the rain restarted.  The grass was bouncy and not muddy and the audience as kind as ever.  A good run through a couple of stands that included the Manx sword twice and  the bellows hey Bidford dances.  After dancing Shepherd's Hey in the first half we took some time to teach the Bidford bellows hey to this years novices, after which Kathy, Sara, Phil and Lesley joined Colin and John to dance an excellent Recruiting Sargent. The best applause was reserved for Ben, who arrived in time from his Olympic Open Ceremony rehearsal to lead our closing dance, Vandals.  It was good to see Laurie back after the local elections, well done on trebling your share of the vote.



Ewell St May's Morris Men's Day of Dance and Thames Valley Morris Men's 60th Anniversary - 14th July
Mud splattered Spring Grove Morris Men shine through the showers.
The 2012 Ewell day of dance combined with the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Thames Valley Morris Men resulted in a varied and memorable day of dancing.  Robin Aitken was a very welcome addition to the Spring Grove MM for the morning dancing session having driven down from Worcester especially to do so.  
The day started at the Green Man in Ewell where at the Watch House the ancient tradition of refreshing the Village Wastrel took place.  Phil represented Spring Grove, ably assisted by Laurie and walked off with first prize with a truly professional performance.   The rain tumbled at the Ewell Village fair but the show went on regardless and then we all boarded a 1951 Bedford SB duple coach (aka the charabanc) and set off for the Wheatsheaf in Epsom where an ex bunny girl (sorry you missed her Ian) served lunch and dispensed drinks after we had danced on the forecourt. 
Then off to deepest darkest wettest Surrey where we traversed Indiana Jones style down the muddy jungle like path to the Holmwood summer fair.  We danced initially in the marquee but then perhaps foolishly encouraged by the squire danced Balance the Straw outside in the continuing rain on rather soggy grass.  Although the sticks did not make any noise when they hit the grass they did manage to collect enough muddy water to shower the receiver in a delicate muddy spray.  Shoes also slowly turned brown much to the concern of the coach operator!  
Next stop was tea and beer at the Tillingbourne brewery where Jill Pottinger kindly provided a wonderful variety of yummy cakes to help us focus on the tasting of Falls Gold, Old Spring and Evolution beer which I have to say was positively reviewed by very discerning morris men though their judgement may have been aided by the previous beers imbibed on the tour and the fact that the beer at the brewery was freely available. 
Final destination was the Claygate flower show where the tour joined up with Thames Valley Morris Men who were celebrating their 60th anniversary.  We danced on slightly less muddy grass at the flower show before moving on to the Hare and Hounds where a full dancing programme took place in front a largish good humoured crowd.  Both Alan and Robin danced as Spring Grove and an excellent version of Fieldtown Signpost was performed.
Colin demonstrated his great dancing ability by supporting Thames Valley in some of their more complicated dances in the Sherborne tradition.   We then ended up at the informal buffet and ale very kindly laid on by Thames Valley where dances, songs and music entertained everyone. 
We would like to thank Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men for inviting us on their tour and keeping us well fed and watered and we would also like to thank and congratulate Thames Valley for including us in their 60th birthday celebration.
Prince Blucher and Sussex Arms, Twickenham Green - 18th July
Prince Blucher blossoms in the arms of Sussex in Twickenham.
The rain had almost stopped when Kingston Morris assembled at the Prince Blucher opposite the Green in Twickenham.  Lesley and Phil who were organizing their first tour, looked less anxious when the rain stopped and the sticks and musicians turned up.  The dancing spot was cosy and a sparse crowd (well six people) watched the side run through those dances that matched the ability of the dancers.  The programme was:-
Highland Mary Bampton
Young Collins Bidford
Vandals Lichfield
Abraham Brown Bidford
Bluebells Adderbury
Signpost Fieldtown
Banbury Bill Bampton
Constant Billy Heddington
The side then moved just across the road to the Sussex Arms which was nicely busy.  A great dancing spot in the beer garden had been set aside and there was a good crowd assembled especially now as the weather had warmed up and more importantly dried out.  Under the witty introductions by MC Laurie the side performed the same dances again and definitely stepped up a gear.  The crowd laughed and applauded in equal measure and, coupled with the great range of beers and ciders on tap, made for a very enjoyable evening.  Sara’s mum was persuaded to become the second person from Las Vegas to dance with Kingston Morris and turned out a decent interpretation of Bonnie Green Garters.  The general consensus was that both these pubs should become a regular feature in the dancing programme and given half decent weather would be great venues.  Well done to Lesley and Phil.

School House Lane Orchard Fair - 21st July

Our dancing was much appreciated as always at this enjoyable community event - and the sun shone!  We danced two stands of five dances in the roped-off middle of the small field (not an easy dancing surface) - ending up with a chaotic BGG involving what seemed like hundreds of very keen children (I'm going to think up an easier dance for these occasions!) The free drinks and cakes were up to the usual standard, and at least one spectator might be interested in joining us next year.  Many thanks to all who came (Kathy, Sara, Lesley, Phil, John, Glenis, Laurie and me), plus special thanks to Gerry for playing and David for making the announcements.


Polesden Lacey Open Air Theatre - 22nd July

As we assembled backstage I heard one of the cast say, "That's more like it - proper Morris dancers in whites, none of this black faces and rag coats...".

They'd had different sides all through the week to start off their performance of As You Like It, and discovered a few pitfalls along the way - so we were instructed to take all our kit with us when we left the stage (and on no account go back for anything); to take off our bells as quietly as possible then creep round to the front as discreetly as we could.

We started dancing on the stage at 2.30, and were so slick we'd got through my list of five by only 2.45, so it was straight on to the next list - I think we were on our 8th or 9th dance when we noticed with alarm that the flag had not been raised at the side of the stage (I'd been told this would happen 10min before the 3pm start). Happily it went up shortly afterwards and almost immediately we heard the shouts of the actor coming through the audience to shoo us off the stage, as planned, just as we reached the end of Bluebells. We'd also been briefed about this - that we could and should respond angrily to being chased off (but not to overdo this or take too long about it - as presumably another side had earlier in the week!).

So that all went well and was enthusiastically received by a big audience, brought out by the sunshine at last (the organisers were pleased).Then we danced a few more in the interval (only time for 3 or 4). It was very hot and several of us were eyeing the ice-cream cart - but disaster, it ran out! Gerry saved the day, gallantly queuing at the main stall for delicious Soleros.  It was also a lovely place to be on such a beautiful day (and what we saw of the play was very good). The team was Glenis, me, Ben, Kathy, David, Robert, Lesley, Phil, with Gerry and Tony to play. Thanks to all, especially those who coordinated lifts and did the driving - and again many thanks to David for being our announcer.


Spring Grove - 2nd August

Kingston Morris celebrate home gold

A balmy night, the first two gold medals and an end of term feel all helped Kingston Morris enjoy an a relaxed evening of dance at their spiritual  public home – the Spring Grove.  The audience were in a very receptive mood following the success of Wiggo in the time trial which earlier in the day had gone through Kingston.  Two spots were performed with some dances enjoying a double set.   It was clearly pointed out to the audience that we were really trying so there was no need to consider disqualification.  Emma was the star of Valentines and half the audience joined in with the last dance.   Mark and Chris added to the variety to the music ably supported by Gerry, Sue and Tony.


The Castle, Ottershaw with Thames Valley Morris Men - 14 August

Spring Grove Morris gets in that Olympic feeling as guests of Thames Valley

On a wonderfully balmy night at the Castle in Ottershaw in front of a large crowd Spring Grove Morris Men joined the feel good factor left over from the Olympics as guests of Thames Valley Morris Men.  Including Alan, who was also on duty for TV, we had the minimum number of dancers ably supported by Gerry and Tony.  The men worked hard and we enjoyably progressed through a dozen or so dances over a couple of hours helped by the drinks supplied generously by the landlord.  The highlight of the evening was without doubt the presentation of a gold medal to Ben in recognition of his sterling work at the opening ceremony of the Olympics.  How he stayed on the high wire we will never know but suffice it to say we will now only refer to him as Mary Poppins. All in all a special night and we are grateful to Thames Valley for inviting us.


Warren House Wedding and Woodies Beer Festival - 18 August

From wedding to festival via several beers and lots of sun.

Kingston morris turned out in good numbers to support Andrew and Sally’s big day at the impressive Warren House on the Coombe estate.  We did them proud from a guard of honour to getting the bridegroom and his mates to join us in Bonny Green Garters.  Despite the soaring temperatures we produced a wide and imaginative set of dances both at the front of the house and in the side gardens.  Onward to the Woodies beer festival where a very large crowd had already tucked into the beer and were dressed more for the beach than the sedate surroundings on the Kings College sports ground.  We slaked our thirst first before performing and were forced to repeat the exercise before our second set.  Normally we are quite a sobrietous side but on this occasion the combination of delicious beers and high temperatures may have slightly affected the finesse on one or two of the later dances.  Nevertheless,  I would like to thank Sergeant Segar, Colin the sway, Olympian Ben, ph Cathy, orange Gerry, TC Tony, John the sticks, riotous Alistair, snap happy Robert and vegas queen Sara for their great support on making the day such a fun time.

Oberfuhrer Steve

Godalming Heritage Day - 9 September

The once popular Godalming Heritage Day was reduced to one side on Saturday and us on Sunday with other sides at Swanage Folk Festival, and bearing in mind the glorious weather who could blame them.  A wonderfully hot day led us to take an unusually laid-back approach.  We met at the Jack Phillips and got going 30 minutes late, after a good set we retired to the Star for a refreshing pint.  A set at the pepper pot, lunch at the Star followed by a set outside took us to the end of the day.


Spring Grove Morris,
16 Dec 2015, 07:48