Log Book for 2013

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

How different this year was from last year's endless rain.  A wonderful year, with some of the best weather for a decade and by the end of the season we finished with two day's of dance, Yateley and St Albans, and the best dancing we've performed for a decade.
Surbiton Parade - Saturday 26th September
A bright and sunny day greeted Suburbanites for their Grand Parade.  We joined the Greensleeves Morris Men to dance in the Station forecourt, then in the magnificent Coronation Hall for a pint before dancing our Bampton Processional to great effect in the Grand Parade.  Steve, though sick, was there to spread recruitment leaflets with a viral bonus to every prospect.  A second stand at St Andrew's Road, and a final pint in the Surbiton Flyer before heading off home.  As recent years have passed the number of stalls and people attending have steadily increased, a great start to the 2013 year.
Morris Try-Outs - Mondays 1st & 8th October
We invite prospective new members and others interested in the Morris to join us for the first two Monday practises of each year.  This year we attracted six new members and over two weeks taught the Upton-upon-Severn Stick Dance and Abraham Brown from Bidford. We hope everyone had a good time and gained an insight into morris dancing.
Rose Theatre, Kingston - Thursday 15th November

It was a really good evening - a fantastic show and great atmosphere (The Lock In - The Demon Barbers show of step clog, Cotswold morris, rapper, sword, songs and contemporary dance.  Ed).  Our pre-show alongside New Esperance Morris (classy women's Cotswold side from Borough, south east London) was much appreciated not only by the audience but also the theatre management, who said they were delighted to have us there and are keen to keep up the relationship in the future. We now have a stack of our recruitment flyers in the Rose foyer, which Phil will replenish when necessary.

Thanks to everyone who went round with flyers, as well as dancing with panache.  Thanks as always to Gerry for great music (good to have Colin playing more too).  We danced Banks of the Dee, Bluebells, Signposts, Highland Mary, Young Collins and Vandals.  We rounded off a great evening with a convivial pint or two in The Ram, and John saved the day by taking the sticks home (many thanks also to Colin for bringing them earlier).


Christmas Fair, Thames Ditton - Sunday 2nd December

What a great atmosphere in Thames Ditton High Street today for their Christmas Fair - helped by the weather - crisp, clear and not too cold. Joe the G&D landlord was not quite sure he was expecting us but very welcoming, and produced the promised mulled wine and mince pies, after we'd danced out first set for a small but appreciative audience.  As the band started up there (with Rogue's March - Gerry and I were tempted to join in) we went back up the High Street and found a good spot where we danced the set below, leaving time between each dance for people to move on as we were almost blocking the street, but a very enthusiastic crowd gathered again each time.  A few of us went back to the G&D where the ceilidh band was still playing and Kathy, Glenis and I had fun joining in a dance.  Well done and thanks everyone - especially Laurie for announcements and volunteering his strong sons to carry the sticks home after the trolley mechanism collapsed again. If we get the chance we should definitely do this gig next year.


Christmas Ale, The Spring Grove - Monday 17th December

Last night was our Christmas Ale and Kingston Morris and Spring Grove Morris Men commandeered one end of the bar at the Spring Grove, our local pub for a bit of a session.  Here Before a fiercely burning wood stove we did indeed rejoice and make merry.  Joined by many friends we entertained the local clientele but mostly ourselves in true festive spirit.  The orchestra was in magnificent form, enlarged and augmented by Chris on the splendid Serpent and the redoubtable Mr Ward on washboard.  They succeeded in rendering several Christmas Carols with rhythm enough to dance Morris to them.  Several members of Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men joined us to sing dance and play enabling a two side Vandals of Hammerwich and introducing a double washboard accompaniment to the song and dance.  The only down note to the proceedings was a noticeable lack of mince pies.  At least none had appeared before I had to slip away leaving the younger members of the sides to revel away until the landlord asked them, politely no doubt, to leave.


Boxing Day, Claygate with Thames Valley Morris Men - Wednesday 26th December
For the last dance out in 2012 the weather looked kindly on us as we started dancing at The Swan, with the usual crowds braving the winter cold.  The re-designed Foley Arms sent us into the back garden with the large crowd.  It only started raining at the Hare and Hounds where a couple of flurries sent the audience scattering home after which the rain set in and Spring Grove made an honourable retreat, leaving Thames Valley to continue to what must have been a rather damp end.  Still a great day.


Shepperton Venture Group - Monday 28th December

Many thanks to all who braved the wind and rain and made it to the Venture group, everyone but me on time...  Our dances and music, along with Colin's brilliant and entertaining commentary, were well received, and we had a good time.  We danced Bampton Highland Mary, Fieldtown Balance the Straw and Signposts, Bidford Young Collins and Recruiting Sergeant, Headington Constant Billy, Lichfield Vandals and the Manx sword, finishing with BGG, in which the members joined enthusiastically (but I don't think we have any new recruits).  Thanks especially to Colin for taking charge of this event, and Gerry and Tony for playing.


Rosemary Lodge Care Home, Wimbledon - Sunday 24th March

We had a appreciative audience of residents, relatives and staff. One lady who is almost blind nevertheless loved the music and rhythmic sticks and bells: "You were so good, absolutely together".  There were five of us to dance: Colin, Robert, Glenis, Kathy and me, plus Gerry joined us in Young Collins. We danced on in Bampton style, followed by Banbury Bill, Hunt the Squirrel, Maid of the Mill, Headington Constant Billy, Princes Royal jig, Bluebells, Highland Mary, Sweet Jenny Jones, Young Collins and Headington Morris Off.  The musicians, Gerry and Tony augmented by Chris B on the serpent, were fantastic playing tunes between each of the dances.


Circle Dance Party of the Green Choros Group - Saturday 13th April

A very select band - Colin, Steve, Ben, Phil and Sue, plus Roger Green - shared a delicious meal and joined in dancing at Costas' Greek evening. (Robert was unfortunately ill.) Ben's salmon and watercress quiche and Lesley's spinach and chick peas were fabulous...  Colin and Sue took turns to play and we adapted the following dances for 5: Abraham Brown, Young Collins, Balance the Straw, Jockey, Valentine and BGG with others joining in.  We joined in the Greek dancing too, some of which was a bit easier than previous years, and Costas' hat dance (a mixture of Playford, Greek and Morris) was brilliant.


Joint Morris Organisation's Day of Dance, Exeter - Saturday 20th April

We met up on Friday evening at the Passage House Inn, Topsham, watched the sun go down over the Exe estuary and enjoyed a convivial evening and delicious meal.

Next morning we started in the garden of the City Gate Hotel (10am), just us and Imbolc Border as the third side had pulled out. This was a useful practice session, where we ran through most of the dances performed later in the day. The side was: Colin, Steve, David, Robert, John, Laurie, Phil, Ben, Sue, Glenis, Kathy, Sara, Gerry and Tony to play. Chris Benson (in Greensleeves kit, plus serpent) joined us for the day, and our famous pig was there too.  We moved on into the city centre for 11am, to a spacious spot (Waterbeer Street) with Exmoor Border, Bristol Rag and Exeter Morris Men. Two ex-members of Spring Grove joined us here: Graham Bungay and Gus Guscott. Gus is the founder of Spring Grove - Steve presented him with the award of Life President of SGMM and a side photo was taken to mark the occasion. He joined in playing with his melodeon; Graham danced Young Collins here and stayed to join in other dances later on - he also 'pigged' for us. We also danced Highland Mary for 9 and Bluebells (2 sets) here. Bristol Rag (mostly students) impressed us with precise and energetic dancing.   Next we had lunch back at the City Gate, in the good company of North Gate Rapper.

Three stops in the afternoon:
First St Catherine's Square with Buttercross Belles (North West), Duke's Dandy (step clog), Wreckers Morris and Silhill Morris (both Border). The Manx sword went well here, Vandals for 12 was perhaps too ambitious but no sticks were dropped in Balance the Straw!  Then Bedford Square (in the shopping centre) with Headcorn Morris (separate men's and women's sides), and one other. Maid of the Mill was a highlight here, Ring o' Bells went well and Abraham Brown (2 sets) was very effective.  We moved on early and were first to dance at the Well House, our final spot by the Cathedral Green. Banks of the Dee was well done, Princes Royal proved a real crowd-pleaser and Young Collins (2 sets) a good finish. Two other sides here were great to watch: Beltane - really wild and dangerous as border should be, and Fool's Gambit - a mixed side, young, athletic, traditional but exciting Cotswold (they are a mix of students and ex-students from all round the country, meeting up every month or so). Buttercross Belles and Dr Turberville's were good too.
Overall though, we did well in comparison with most of the other Cotswold sides.

A few of us then split off to explore the Exeter Passages ("a unique ancient monument of underground passages" - brilliant) while others joined in a mass Banbury Bill/Rose Tree and Bonny Green Garters in front of the cathedral. After dividing up to eat almost everyone ended up at the Royal Oak for a music and song session, where Tony was the last man standing (I'm reliably told).

Next morning we met up in the quay area and got through several dances, starting and finishing a bit earlier than the other sides. We danced Vandals, Ring o' Bells, Balance the Straw, Princes Royal, Young Collins, Highland Mary for 9, and Abraham Brown in which we made a new record for dancing close to the edge of the quayside.  We finally met the host side Great Western and their sister side Glory of the West who showed that you don’t have to be young to dance superb morris.

A select audience in Whimple Square watched our final performance that included Sweet Jenny Jones and Hunt the Squirrel, dances that hadn’t made it out in Exeter.  A marvellous meal followed for a ridiculously low price compared to London.  Ben offered a fine toast to Steve for organising such a successful weekend, and after buying some bottles of Whimple apple cider for home consumption we headed off.


St George's Day, The George and Dragon, Thames Ditton - Tuesday 23rd April

It was good to see two sets out for many dances with much enthusiasm shown.  Congratulations to Kathy and Sara who danced their double jig to earn their baldrics & rosettes.  The opportunity was taken to present cheques totalling £800.00 to Heather Hunt from The British Heart Foundation.  The sum represented our charitable giving from 2012.  So keep a lookout in the local media for any publicity generated by the presentation.  It was agreed that the collection from St. George's Day would also go to the BHF.  The collection, 'on the night' totalled £62.50 which represents a 25.23% increase on the same gig in 2012.  Something to do with the contrast in the weather from 2012 I suspect.  A good start to the new season of dancing.

To which Sue added:
Sara and Kathy's stunning Princes Royal double jig was fantastic - beautifully choreographed and danced with precision and panache. Huge congratulations to both.  Just about everyone was there (great to have Id dancing again too) and we performed the following, many with two sets: H Mary, B Bill, Y Collins, A Brown, C Billy (Head), Bluebells, Vandals, Upton stick, Hunt the squirrel. Signposts, Maid of the Mill and Valentine (with Heather from the BHF), BGG to finish.  Thanks to everyone especially Gerry and Tony for music, and to the landlord for sausage and chips which were much appreciated.

Rackspace, Hayes - Wednesday 24th April

Spring Grove were asked by Rackspace in Hayes to pass on a few facts about Morris, display a dance, and then teach it to the management team to kick off their corporate day.  We put together a quiz, with the winners getting Rackspace t-shirts, danced Bidford - Young Collins, then dispersed as the management team, dressed in a fancy dress shop version of a morris man's kit, lined up to dance straight in with no teaching.  After a brief yet entertaining disaster Steve led the snake through the audience to great applause.  Laurie presented each of the good sports dancing with a badge and we were done.


St George's Day celebration at the Central Ward Sports and Social Club 

A hail shower scrubbed the first spot at the Morden Brook, fortunate as I was stuck in post Army vs Navy rugby traffic also delaying Phil.  There was a good crowd at the Club when we arrived and more crowded in with the late arrivers having to stand, a mix of people of all ages looked ready to enjoy a fine evening's entertainment.  The constrained dancing space meant that folks had to be very aware of the set, and Ben made friends with the rosette of Christmas Style strings of lights from the low ceiling.  Even the caller had to adapt instead of "Rounds", calling "Oval".  A rather fast 5 person Manx provided some variation and once again Princes Royal proved a great success.  Once we had finished dancing and the cockney sing-a-long started Steve was asked about another booking, so we may be returning.  A contingent left for dinner back at the Morden Brook while the remnants headed off home. 


Princes Head and White Cross, Richmond - Monday 29th April

As always Datchet were really friendly, good company and great to watch. We didn't do so badly either and it was a beautiful evening - that sunset over the Thames is magical.  We started at the Prince's Head with Highland Mary, Bluebells, Abraham Brown (Ania making her debut in great style!), Princes Royal for 4 and a massed Vandals.  At the White Cross we danced Young Collins, Banbury Bill, Constant Billy (Adderbury), Abraham Brown (just as good the second time) and a massed BGG to finish. BGG actually felt like a dance rather than chaos, with many so many competent dancers and lots of space.  It was great to see Ania's friend Sue again (really hope she'll come and join us one day!). We had a good turn-out of dancers in the end: Glenis, Kathy, Alan, Laurie, Robert, David, Ian, Ania, Phil and Id - thanks to everyone. I was also very grateful to Dave Legg (Datchet/Greensleeves) for playing some dances for us, enabling me to dance and call.


May Morning, Box Hill - Wednesday 1st May

Ewell St Mary's Morris Men, Rampant Rooster, Kingston Morris and Spring Grove Morris Men gathered in the breaking dawn in the car park on Box Hill, with Spring Grove celebrating their 34th continuous appearance at dawn on Box Hill.   There was a frost in the air, but with the wind speed at almost zero we shunned coats Winstered out to Salamond's memorial.  There were enough dancers to make up six sides and a band for the massed dances, quite a sight.  The sun made an occasional appearance, but not enough to warm those not dancing, and after a few minutes Kingston and Spring Grove retreated back into coats.  Roosters kept warm in their rag jackets, and I was impressed that in spite of the cold Ewell stayed in kit and looked all the better for it.  After photos and singing the Hal an Tow, the workers headed off while the others followed Ewell to the Wheatsheaf for breakfast and a session.  A definite improvement on last year's weather, but not the promised glorious dawn experienced by other sides.


Kingston May Merrie - Monday 6th May

It was exhilarating to have such large and enthusiastic audiences, everyone seemed to be enjoying it and the whole event had more of a buzz than some years (probably down to the fine weather). There was also quite a bit of interest in joining us in the autumn.  We danced three spots in Clarence Street and Old London Road. The Manx Sword and Maid of the Mill went down very well so we performed them twice, otherwise no repeats and we got through H Mary, B Bill, Y Collins, A Brown, P Royal, C Billy (both), Bluebells, Vandals, B Straw, Signposts, R Bells, S Hey (Bid), B Dee, Upton Hanky and Upton Stick, with a participatory BGG at the end of each spot.  Well done to everyone. It was very good to have Id along, and thanks in particular go to Steve for calling and announcing, Colin for calling and playing, Glenis and David for calling, Laurie and Chris for bravely fooling (with a very hot and heavy pig) and Laurie for announcing in fine style.


Richmond May Fair - Saturday 11th May

Richmond and its Fair were busy despite the chilly weather, and we attracted good audiences, both at the stage and especially at the Prince's Head afterwards.  We warmed up beside the flower stall at the Quadrant (we were also in demand to pose for photographs), then proceeded to the stage where, as usual, the programme was running late and we had to wait some time before our set.  We danced the Manx Sword, Maid of the Mill, Bidford Shepherd's Hey, Nutting Girl jig (Colin in fine style) and Vandals.  After brief refreshment at the Prince's Head we danced a further nine dances, attracting a new audience each time.  It was a good spot so we decided to stay there until calling it a day, with perfect timing: the rain started in earnest just as I was loading the sticks into our car.  Thanks especially to Gerry (just back from New York) for music, and dancers Colin, David, John, Ben, Glenis, Kathy, Sara, Laurie and Phil. Great to have Colin and Chris now playing for us too.


Spring Grove, Kingston - Tuesday 14th May

I do try not to start my reports with the weather (though often it's the first thing that springs to mind) but as for last night's downpour...  We did dance, however, as witnessed in the photos from Dave Anders of Phoenix Clog, and the hardy souls who came all had a good time I think (though I hope we didn't set Robert back too far in recovering from his cold).  It was great to have Phoenix with us - snappy, energetic north west dancing to Alan Mead's (ex-Spring Grove Morris Men) lively playing.  Huge thanks to Gerry for music, and Kathy, Ian, Robert, Id and Phil for dancing.  Hope you don't have too much trouble getting the mud out of trousers (whites were not designed for this).


The Parrot, Forest Green - Thursday 23rd May

We spent more time travelling to and from The Parrot than we spent at the Parrot, so perhaps the report should emphasise that part of the evening.  Though those travelling from south and east Kingston had a better time of it that the rest of us.   The Parrot is a lovely pub, with an uneven brick forecourt that a set can squeeze on to.  Ewell and we took it in turns to dance, mostly for each other with the occasional smoker popping out to enjoy the show.  The shower of rain that hit as we drew up to the pub quickly subsided and left us alone for the evening, leaving only the cold that eventually drove us back indoor where Ewell entertained us and the rest of the pub with a wonderful session of songs and music.   As ever we make the resolution to contribute to the après Morris as much as we do to the dancing, perhaps next time. 


The Weir and The Swan, Walton-on-Thames - Monday 4th June

Given the landlady’s prediction that “there will probably be few visitors” at the Weir ; the garden was quite full as the dancing started and I went round with the LMP (Lucky Morris Potty); though the garden had cleared within a few minutes!.  Nonetheless the audience who remained were very appreciative.  After a short transition to the Swan; a small audience was similarly interested and generous so that we collected a total not much less than the coin donations at the George & Dragon on St George’s Day.


Twickenham Festival - Saturday 8th June

It really was fantastic at Twickenham on Saturday. The festival gets better and better, and that brilliant video of Upton Stick catches the atmosphere better than words. Thank you Lesley for that and thanks to everyone for everything: dancing, playing, announcing, calling, being helpful and obliging - you were all wonderful as always.  Other skills called on during the day included looking after a distraught mother with tiny baby and toddler when her overloaded buggy toppled over (Glenis and Sara gave the infants back without too much struggle). Then even after the discriminating appreciation of several varieties of ale at the White Swan we found our way round the flooded road to the Barmy Arms for a final fling.  It was great to have Hannah Hoskins with us playing the whistle. Hannah introduced herself at the May Merrie and since then we've discussed tunes etc. Everyone was very welcoming and Hannah said she enjoyed it a lot, so I hope very much she'll join us again!


The White Hart and Swan, Hampton Wick - Monday 10th June

The White Hart was welcoming but The Swan was something else - really enthusiastic landlord (who came out to watch all the dances) and clientele. We should definitely go back there. Another advantage was the pub's position on a junction, attracting passers-by and at least one man who was on his way to another pub...  The team was Gerry, Chris, Alan, Laurie, Ben, Phil, Id, Ian, Kathy, Sara, Ania and me. We danced Adderbury Constant Billy and Sweet Jenny Jones (at a nice steady speed), Balance the Straw, Banbury Bill, Headington Constant Billy, Ring o' Bells, Princes Royal, Shepherds Hey, Abraham Brown, Young Collins, Vandals and Highland Mary, repeating the last four especially for Ania.


The Midsummer Morris, Richmond and Twickenham - Wednesday 19th June

14 past and present Spring Grove Morris members enjoyed a balmy evening’s dancing with Ewell St Mary’s, Greensleeves, Thames Valley and Yateley Morris Men, and a first with Lewis from Westminster Morris bringing some class to the event.  It was great to see Robin Aiken dancing and playing and to meet Luis Castillo who danced 79-87 when the side was young.  We started ahead of time at the White Star where the marvellous weather had brought out the crowds.  There was a notably fine performance of Maid of the Mill and Steve entertained the audience with witty repartee, mostly aimed at his harem.  Some 13 dances and 2 massed later we finished with Bonny Green Garters and headed off for the Barmy Arms.   Dusk fell while we danced for the lighter audience at the Barmy Arms with a further 12 dances and 2 massed finishing again with Bonny Green Garters.  I was struck by the quality of musicianship throughout the evening and pleased that we held our own, well done Gerry and Sue.  As the evening ended and folks departed the universal message from the guests was “One of our favourite evenings of the year, were looking forward to the next one.”  Anything to oblige.


Royal Oak, Brockham - Wednesday 26th June

Thanks to everyone for a great evening. Box Hill Bedlam were very good company and had some interesting dances, including one to a beautifully sung solo 'Bedlam boys' and another lampooning Cotswold hankie dances (we showed them with a vigorous Vandals after that).  It was very good to have a healthy number of dancers there, after it looked so dodgy a few days before. It was fantastic too that Alan Mead joined us, with his amazing adaptability and musicianship, even when bombarded with tune requests...  I was taken by surprise when Bedlams declared they had exhausted their repertoire, and would we please teach them a dance? At the same time two Rampant Roosters from the audience asked if they could join in a dance... It all got rather chaotic, and trying to teach everyone Sweet Jenny Jones was never going to work (as many of you were rightly advising, while Bedlams said 'Yes, yes we can" in my other ear). We did abandon that and ended up dancing SJJ with the two Roosters and then a mass BGG.  A lively music session followed - Alan B's hilarious song was a highlight :-)


Barley Mow and Thames Court, Shepperton - Monday 1st July

We had a small but interested audience in the Barley Mow car park, and several joined in Bonny Green Garters with gusto (it was a lovely old boozer with lots of character, and excellent selection of beers, and with a dinosaur and volcano in the garden. Ed).  The Thames Court was a much more picturesque setting, and we had an appreciative audience of people dining in the garden.  We danced in the (very quiet) road which upset one motorist, but a police car waited patiently and passed with no comment. It was very good to see Ania again (and her fan club!) - thanks also to Colin and Steve for announcing and John for not only transporting the sticks but also renovating many of them.


Ewell St Mary's MM Day of Dance - Saturday 13th July

Getting out of Gerry’s air-con car in Ewell the day felt perfect, a balmy warmth with a gentle zephyr, but this was 9:15 in the morning and the heat of the day was yet to come.  We kicked off with a programme of Bidford at the Famous Green Man dancing for the Mayor of Epsom and Ewell, before processing to the Lock-Up where Ewell trounced Phoenix and SGM’s Phil and Colin to refresh the wastrel.  Steve took the opportunity mid-dance to follow a fit runner that came past – thanks for coming back, it could have been a good option. At the village fete Steve invited old Spring Grove members Peter Collins and Alan Mead to join us dancing and with Robert joining us at the Wheatsheaf and Sue morphing from Phoenix the team of 11 for the day was complete.  It was notable that the only people bold enough to stay in the sunshine at the fate were the morris dancers, and having dehydrated we were allowed time to buy a pint in the Wheatsheaf, but not to then drink it!The Running Horse had the most select clientele of the day, ourselves, where Alan Mead joined in with Banks of the Dee; after dancing we ate lunch.  The audience at Surrey Hills Brewery was almost as selective, a valiant attempt at Princes Royal and one from Ewell and we were back on the bus for Holmwood Village Show where we danced a lengthier stand in baking heat.   The Parrot was heaving, helped by a beer festival and a steel  band who no doubt enjoyed our contributions to their music.  By the time the band finished we could squeeze in one dance each before setting off for the Kings Head.  By this time we were plumbing the less well remembered items from the silver collection, but Sweet Jenny Jones was a triumph (on second attempt) ablely assisted by Peter Collins, and not forgetting the delightful assistant for Valantine.  The final stand at the Volunteer petered out and we took a curious route back to Ewell via Surbiton arriving the traditional 1 hour late, hot, sticky, parched, exhausted, happy.


New Inn, Ham and Boaters, North Kingston - Thursday 18th July

We had an enthusiastic response both at the New Inn (several people wanting to know more about us and about Morris) and Boaters. Thanks especially to Gerry for music :-)  At the New Inn Glenis, Sara, Kathy, David, Robert, Ben, Phil, Alan and I danced several Bidford, Bampton, Adderbury dances ending with Lichfield Vandals. At Boaters we were joined by Steve and John and added Headington and Fieldtown dances - many of these on the path into the pub - was this the smallest space we've ever danced in? Audience was keen though and we just managed not to trip on scooters or break any glasses. Then we moved down to the towpath as the sun set over the river - such a beautiful spot.


Ducklington Morris Day of Dance - Saturday 20th July

Three cars set out with ten people from South West London to the wilds of the Cotswolds.  Thanks to Gerry, Robert and David for doing all the driving and for some of the group it was their first visit to the delights of Burford, Stow-on-the-Wold etc.  We got to Stow comfortably in time for coffee in the main square before ambling down to the memorial where we joined seven other sides - Ducklington Morris, Rockhopper Morris of Stockenchurch, Aelfgythe Border Morris, Garston Gallopers, Wychwood Border Morris, Shinfield Shambles and Appleyard Folk (Morris).  Two sides were womens clog teams, two mixed border sides and three mixed Cotswold teams including the hosts Ducklington.  Annia was thrown straight into the first dance in front of all the other sides and a large audience and did Young Collins very well and that set up her up for the day during which she took on Shepherds Hey (Bidford) for the first time and Constant Billy (Headington) for the second time.  The highlights of the eight pub tour were dancing William and Nancy in Bledington, and Balance the Straw and Banks of the Dee in Fieldtown (Leafield).  All the Kingston dancers who were lucky enough to be there will remember dancing in the home of morris for some time.  We averaged two dances at each spot so got plenty of dancing as everyone got their chance to demonstrate their morris skills (though not always entirely to the music, or totally in step with the other dancers, or indeed setting off in exactly the right direction), but nevertheless, we generally danced well and Maid of the Mill was our high spot.  We were well received by the other sides which is a good reflection on our standing.  Sara and Kathy were borrowed to do the Upton hanky dance with another side which they did really well despite the movements being different from the version we perform.  Throw in brilliant weather, the odd steam roller or six seen at a rally in Ducklington, wonderful local ales and great camaraderie not only within Kingston Morris but also between the sides and you get some idea of what a pleasure morris can be.  We even didn't mind sometimes taking the scenic route between some of the spots!  Talking of which, Steve very generously shared his Delphinium petals with half the side. Well done Gerry for the music, and for the good collection for our charities.


Prince Blucher and Sussex Arms, Twickenham Green - Tuesday 23rd July

We started at the Prince Blucher on a hot muggy night with a reasonable audience including an artist drawing us as we danced. With Sue as the sole musician, our dancing was intensive in the heat, but we performed Highland Mary, Signpost, Young Collins, Constant Billy (Adderbury), and several others. Kathy aggravated an old ankle injury, but bravely continued to dance, so we finished a bit early to give everyone a break. We closed with a BGG involving a number of the customers, including one young man who could dance but did not want to be recruited. Luckily reinforcements arrived, in the form of John and Alan, as we prepared to move on to the Sussex.  The Sussex was busy, especially outside, so our pre-arranged dance area on the patio was still in use, but we found space in the garden area for a first stand which included a repeat of some of the earlier dances plus Vandals and Maid of Mill to a good audience which included the artist who followed us. After a refreshment break to recover from the heat, we danced a second spot on the patio. Whilst passing the potty, we were challenged by one table to get one member of their group to dance with us, and offered good remuneration. We rose to the challenge and succeeded, not only in getting the chosen person to dance, but several others from that table, resulting in a good reward that will be passed to our charities (SPEAR & KCAH).


Woodies Beer Festival, New Malden - Saturday 16th August

It was windy, almost chilly and the rain felt close as we gathered to dance at Woodies.  We briefly sheltered in the beer tent having been presented with three beer tickets, before belling up and dancing on.  As we drew to the end of the first set the rain started and we returned to the beer tent while the audience scattered.  After some door step sandwiches and more beer while we considered a couple of jigs inside the test as our second spot, the rain eased and we took on the second set back outside.  A larger more enthusiastic audience joined us as the sky cleared and warmth returned.  Most notable was the friendliness and affection for the Morris from the crowd.  Good calling from Ben, John and Glenis and good music from Gerry and Chris. The standard of dance was remarkably high, the changeovers were smooth and Princes Royal and Maid of the Mill continue to be good crowd pleasing dances.


The Phoenix, Sunbury with Thames Valley Morris Men - Tuesday 20th August

A pleasent evening spent in the company of friends and with a appreciative audience.  We started dancing at 8 o'clock without sticks until the ever reliable Ben arrived with them,  then alternated with TVMM until 10 o'clock and there weren't enough men with the energy to continue.  The publican declaimed that in all his years this was the most enjoyable evening, and who would disagree with him.


Mill Street Sausage and Beer Festival, Kingston - Saturday 7th September

Millfest is a great local event so we were pleased to be there again this year. The audience was select (the event hadn't really got going) but appreciative as Laurie, Ben, Glenis, Sara, Robert, Kathy and Sue danced Highland Mary, Young Collins, Banbury Bill and Constant Billy (Add) to Gerry's lively playing. We finished with Bonny Green Garters, young and old joining in enthusiastically. We gave out flyers and there seemed to be some interest in joining us - we shall see.  Sue then had to leave but the rest headed to the Spring Grove where Colin, delayed by Rugby at Twickenham, was happily playing his box in the garden.  Beers all round, then we entertained a select audience by practising then performing Sweet Jenny Jones, the Upton upon Severn Stick Dance, Maid of the Mill and the Manx Sword Dance in which Robert took the role of the Doctor and after dancing through and around the set was carried off on the lock at the end.

Sue and Colin

Yateley Morris Men's Day of Dance - Saturday 21st September

A very good day as always. Present were Colin, Steve, Glenis, David, Ben, Ian, John, Laurie, Robert, Sara, Gerry and Sue (plus Alan in Thames Valley guise).  Nine sides were represented and we split into two tours with a full coach for each. On our tour were: Ellington Morris (mixed Cotswold), Hook Eagle Morris Men (men's Border - with a big mixed band), Kennet Morris Morris Men (men's Cotswold), Kingston Morris (mixed Cotswold and Sword), Thames Valley Morris Men (men's Cotswold).  At the first spot we danced (among other things) Princes Royal, which started a running joke about the length of our dances...  Then we went on to two stops in Godalming. We were joined at the first by Mayflower Morris (women's North-West, there for Godalming Heritage Day). Highlights here were the sword with Robert joining in (brilliant) and an energetic Maid of the Mill. After a very good lunch it was back on the coach to the Hogsback Brewery, where they do sell beer (!) but we were supplied free with two boxes (kegs?) of ale and one of cider. Despite this Signposts went very well; however there was room for improvement in Recruiting Sergeant.  We joined in several mass dances through the day, including our Highland Mary for nine.  After a generous tea back at the school in Yateley all sides processed to the Dog and Partridge where our show dance (Manx Sword) was highly praised. Sides from the other tour who joined us here were: Customs and Exiles (mixed North-west and Border), Ewell Morris Men (men's Cotswold), Knickerbocker Glory (Appalachian), Yateley Morris Men (men's Cotswold).  At the evening feast we ate some excellent quality individual pies and ratatouille before tucking into the cheese board - fine stilton and cheddar.  Along with the other entertainments Robert read a brief poem, I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke, and Colin sang a 1911 music hall song, The Spaniard That Blighted My Life - both went down very well. Then we cleared the tables and danced, our offering being brisk Constant Billy - Headington, finally heading off around 9.45. A thought for the future is to develop an amusing/entertaining dance for these occasions.

Sue and Colin

St Albans Morris Men's Day of Dance - Saturday 28th September

A warm and interesting day with St Albans provided a fine end to the dancing season.  St Albans were joined along with us by Blackheath, Coventry, Ripley, Etcetera, Whitchurch, and also Kennet who happened to be in St Albans for their end of season tour.  While other sides kicked off with a warm up dance we set the standard for the day with a high quality Signposts.  At the clock tower Robert climbed for an aerial view of Abraham Brown before we then took lunch, somewhat delayed by the -pub losing the order.  The next show was outside the west door of the Abbey for all the sides, and we produced a good of Shepherd’s Hey, a much admired Maid of the Mill, and Coventry danced the slowest version of Ampleforth sword I’ve ever seen.  The final stand was a wind-down spot in the garden of the White Hart where Steve stepped in as No 1 for an entertaining Blackheath Postman’s Knock – I think he’s made some firm friends there.  At 6pm we were stood down with some departing and others staying on for dinner, music and singing.  The entertainments proved elusive so after eating, the rest of us also departed.  I have no doubt that Spring Grove set the standard for the other sides to aspire to, not just once but many times, and in my view the best received of any dance performed that day was our Maid of the Mill.