Log Book for 2014

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


New Maden Market - Saturday 5th October

Two sets at the Norbiton Park Hotel, renamed the Fountain in 1929 in honour of New Malden's once most famous monument that was demolished by a truck shortly afterwards.  We danced the first set then lined up with Amy the sheep to make an honour arch for New Malden's Mayor.  After a brief but loud announcement by a town Crier the Mayor officially opened the expanded market in its new location.  Lunch was a Pint of beer curtesy of the Market with a chance to admire the interior of the Fountain, after which we danced the second set and finished with award winning Swiss sausages and raclette.  Other stalls of note included some excellent cake and curious cheese.



Try-Out Sessions - St John's Church, Monday 7th & 14th October

Eight new dancers, including three who are also musicians, walked in through the door for this year's try-outs.  Ages were from 18 to 60 and we had a range of complete novice dancers, dancers from other disciplines such as Scottish and African Mapouka, to some from surrounding sides looking to dip their toe in the world of Cotswold and sword.  We spent the first evening looking at Lichfield - Ring O'Bells, and the second looking at Bampton - Banbury Bill also demonstrated a hanky or stick dance and the Manx Sword Dance.   Having three sets dancing with people to spare was great, and the atmosphere was buzzing with enthusiasm.  It was interesting to note that the old members may have had better style, but the new people listened to the Foreman and had a greater propensity to get the dance right!

Colin (long suffering Foreman)

P.S. Three more new arrivals, one each in the succeeding three weeks, takes our total of new dancers this year to 11.


Post-Bonfire, Brockham, Sunday 3rd November

It was chilly but gloriously sunny on Sunday afternoon as we met two Border Morrris sides, Rampant Rooster and Mythago at the Royal Oak overlooking the green at Brockham. We were but six dancers and Gerry to provide the music but we made quite an impact as the only Cotswold dancers at this event. Onlookers were heard to mention that they enjoyed the variety of dancing entertainment. We began however by joining a mass Border dance that most of Kingston Morris had run through at last weeks practice evening. Some of the movements were a little wayward but the sticking, complex as it is, was competently performed. That is until the final double time call which proved to be, for me at least, rather too much.
We took our turns between further border dances by large sides of Roosters with vocal and minimal musician accompaniment and smaller but no less complex dances by Mythago with big and electrified band. We danced Bidford and Bampton dances in which Lesley demonstrated that she is fit enough to get back to dancing and remembers last years repertoire very well. All sides joined in for a mass Vandals of Haverswich before processing to the still burning embers of Saturdays Guy Faulks bonfire. Here with an appropriate speech to mark the end of a dancing season and the moment of a return to the spirit world by the tree spirits in our Morris sticks we all hurled our sticks into the embers with symbolic flourish. At this point we stood down and enjoyed a relaxing pint at the Royal Oak before leaving.



Top Gear book launch, Borough Market - Tuesday 12th November

Steve and The Stig – They were thought mad by those that could not hear the music

Random House Publishers had an idea for a Christmas Book, a Guide to Britain in the style of Top Gear, and they asked us to participate in a the production of a viral clip of The Stig turning up to the book launch and wrecking a morris dancing performance.  This played to the stage persona of The Stig as a badly behaved teenager separate to his driving skills on the racetrack.  Borough Market was coming to life as we arrived with the production company are camera crew on hand.    It was a little damp and still mild for a mid-November morning, but we were under cover in the market so no worries. The book’s editor was the boy for the day, and he headed off to get an order of coffee and croissants from the Monmouth Coffee shop while we mingled.  No sign of The Stig, but we stripped down to kit and ran through Banbury Bill to the CD to applause and general approval.  Still no sign of The Stig.  The producer decided Steve was the man for The Stig to accost and ran him though the scene.  Still no Stig.  We now learnt that we must dance in silence, to which Gus’s playing will be added later.  Still no Stig. The production company curses “The Talent” – typical behaviour apparently.  The Stig arrives in a big white throbbing merc; we drool.  Tall, thin, is white leathers and a white helmet with reflective shield, The Stig shows no emotion, no reaction, no acknowledge of instructions – how is this going to work?  Then he starts moving and walking through the scene.  Start dancing, Stig draws up, gets out and walks through the set, slams the CD player on the ground, the silent music stops, he approaches Steve, takes his hat and dumps it in the bin before driving off.  “Very good” say the producer, “You’re like professional actors” says the exec.  “Remember less is more”, ah, right.  We film the scene, and again, and again, and again…etc.  The audience with their camera phones come and go, some showing amazement at The Stig most showing sympathy for us.  Just one more, and again, and again… Then we’re done.  Lots of fun and appreciation for a gig well done.  The youtube promotional video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ2OwT_aoRw

Can I resign my day job and do this full time? 

Steve, can I have your autograph? 



12 Days of Chritmas Santa's Arrival, Westfield Stratford City - Saturday 16th November

James Denny's event at Westfield went off nicely; along with me there were a further nine dancers and one musician taken from North Wood, London Pride, Bells of London City and Albion.  A practice beforehand to agree on movements and we joined the procession that snaked around the packed Westfield. We finished with a thirty second blast on stage and we were off for free beer in our allocated mustering room.  After half an hour we were all itching to dance again so the 10 Lords Morris headed down to the The Cow in the shopping centre where James joined us. The beer flowed, and we danced for around two hours exploring each others repertoire until of the twelve of us we couldn't get six to stand up.  The white baldrics on white shirts were a little, well, white, and more effective close up then in the photo.  With snow machines, elves, entertainers and Santa(!) I left feeling quite Christmassy.

Ho Ho Ho.



Old Malden Scouts - Tuesday 19th November

We were very pleased to have been given the opportunity to widen participation and awareness of morris dancing at the invitation of the 1st Old Malden Scouts.  We met at their headquarters in Malden Road, Worcester Park where we able to explore, in a light hearted manner, the history and customs of morris dancing before teaching a basic dance.  As a departure from the normal introduction we talked about the relevance of our costumes as we added neckerchiefs, bells, hats, baldrics and hankies to our basic whites.  We danced Young Collins, Bidford as a demonstration dance and then divided the Explorers and leaders into three sets. Ian and Ben instructed the “George” morris, Glenis and Helena the “Powder Puff” morris and Kathy and Sue the “Hibbit” morris.  Gerry and Steve moved between the three groups encouraging their efforts and providing music when needed. They then performed in front of a nominated non dancing judge who chose The Hibbits as the best side so well done Sue and Kathy.

Many congratulations to Helena who performed her first official public dance in Kingston Morris colours.   We adjourned to the nearby Plough to celebrate both Helena’s success and the fact that no scouts injured themselves with the sticks!



Christmas Ale, The Spring Grove Pub, Monday 16th December

Thanks everyone for making it a brilliant evening! I look forward to all the photos which will describe it far better than words.  It was great to have folks from Ewell St Mary's joining us and, because a spouse and a sibling came too, we also had a side from Phoenix Clog, along with almost all of KSGM.

We got through all our Christmas dances and many other favourites, Ewell and Phoenix danced energetically too and the mass Abraham Brown and BGG were great. I hope everyone got enough dancing, apologies if anyone didn't :-)  Mince pies went down well as did the music and singing, helped by Ewell and their songbooks.

Special thanks to our augmented band: Gerry, Alan (Mead), Colin, Sue, Alan Bull, Chris Benson (serpent) and Mark Ward (washboard).

Congratulations to Laurie for holding his nerve to dance the Princes Royal jig in front of such a critical audience! Colin then awarded him Kingston and Spring Grove rosettes.  We awarded KSGM Person of the Year: Gerry received a certificate and "Melodeon dude with attitude" T-shirt - "for great rhythm and solid support".  Three further one-off certificates went to:

Lesley - "For a wondrous website and fantastic filming".
Phil - "Most improved dancer of the year".
Steve - "Highest earning bagman in history".

Later on we awarded baldrics to Helena, Jane and Id, recognising their proficiency - congratulations to all.

Laura brought Christian Aid collecting tins and our £2 contributions in lieu of Xmas cards, plus a collection round the pub, brought a total of £108.66 for the Philippines appeal.  Well done everyone especially all the new members thrown in to dances they really didn't know - we hope you enjoyed it and it wasn't too unnerving!  Have a wonderful Christmas!



St Stephen's Day tour, Claygate, Thursday 26th December

Boxing Day was conveniently timed for a dry period between a series of winter storms, the first of which was the greatest every low recorded hitting the British Isles, resulting in extensive flooding around the Mole Valley.  There was a thin showing of dancers this year so Spring Grove representatives Colin and Alan (in blue plumage) were most welcome.  Audiences at the Hare and Hounds were the largest I've ever seen, and with an external bar to help serve there was no shortage of refreshment.  The Winning Horse had good numbers which I think must be a first and the finale at the Griffin had some of the best dancing of the day.  It was good to see the two new men, Sam and Chris, settling in well, and Thames Valley dancing some of the more eclectic dances from the Morris pantheon.  As ever, an enjoyable day’s dancing.



Seething Wells, Surbiton, Sunday 23rd February

Great to be part of this wacky and wonderful community event again! Fears of dire weather  proved unfounded - it was dry, quite mild and sheltered in the trees of St Andrew's Square.  Hard work dancing on the artificial turf carpet over muddy ground but we were received with great acclaim. Thanks to everyone who came: Glenis, Ben, Alan, David, Sara, Lesley, Helena, Jane, Caroline, Laurie, Id - a great turn-out of dancers for the time of year - with Gerry and Nick playing (welcome Nick - it's great having you!), and Robert and Georgina with cameras.  Our adapted BGG worked well in the procession, and before that we danced old favourites Highland Mary, Young Collins, Vandals and Banbury Bill. The organisers seemed delighted to have us there, and a free drink at the bar (Ranmore Ale and cask cider) rounded things off nicely.



Royal Star & Garter and Laurel Dene Care Homes, and The George and Dragon, Thames Ditton, Wednesday 23rd April

The new purpose-built Star and Garter home is impressive and we had an excellent space to dance in, though we had to mind the floor (saying bang! bang! bang!) and the light.  We watched St George fight and slay a fierce dragon then were served drinks and delicious sandwiches.  It was very warm so we were pleased the Hampton home suggested we dance outside on their patio surrounded by lawns and trees,  Most of the residents stayed inside to watch but some came out, and one lady in particular was entranced throughout, joining in, though a bit vaguely, in BGG.  Congratulations to Georgina for her first dance out with us and Mark whose washboard brought a brilliant rhythm section to the band.

In the evening we were warmly welcomed at the George and Dragon by new landlord Mick - first drink was free for everyone, and the traditional food later on was well up to standard. It rained all evening, but not heavily enough to prevent us dancing for a small but very enthusiastic audience. We had good numbers, including Jim to play.  This was a real highlight of the evening - Jane was awarded her Kingston Morris rosettes to massive cheers.

The season is off to a great start.

Oxford Folk Festival, Saturday 26th April
Most of us met up in the basement of a cafe off Broad St before heading outside to dance. It proved a good place for a warm-up, no crowds but a sprinkling of bemused (but smiling) tourists. We had to abandon our hats here as gusts of wind kept whisking them off.  After lunch at the Red Lion, our first official spot was in Gloucester Green, in a wide area surrounded by craft stalls. We were with Thames Valley here - always good company and it was very good to see Robin Aitken, long-standing member of Spring Grove and Off-Spring (as KM used to be called) as well as our Alan. We combined forces with them in a massed Vandals.  The plan was to focus on our distinctive dances, and that worked well: Bidford Princes Royal and Shepherd's Hey in particular went down well with those watching, including the other sides, as did Maid of the Mill. Observing other sides dance, I was struck by how much more watchable are the performances with vigorous movement and energy, plus a little bit of hamming-up... and  I think ours came into that category. Thames Valley were good too and Eynsham great to watch, very striking arm/hankie movements in their distinctive tradition. At our last stop another side performed a rather tame version of Sheriff's Ride - movements so gentle it looked like a different dance altogether. We must keep up our energetic style.  After Gloucester Green, rain kept us under cover in the Red Lion till it was time for the last spot in Radcliffe Square - also interrupted by a shower but we got several dances in as well as forming an escort (is that the word?) with our sticks for a succession of wedding cars. Jane was here with Wild Hunt (border) and we managed to catch her without the mask to say hello.
Dance the Sun up, Box Hill, Thursday 1st May
Under a heavy blanket of mist and increasing rain we did our duty, along with Ewell and Rampant Rooster, welcoming the summer in at the appropriate hour though we didn't see much of a sunrise.  The Wheatsheaf was a convivial haven after that.  Commiserations to those who couldn't come - we had a truly splendid breakfast plus good beer (some of us) and music.  Ewell as always were superb hosts and great company.  Toni's great rendition of Flanders and Swann's "The Gasman Cometh" was an unexpected highlight that I hope we'll hear again!  Thanks to everyone for braving the weather - including Id and Tina who were led astray by SatNav and only made it for the very last dances.  Thanks too for all the atmospheric photos.  Congratulations to Lesley and Phil for achieving their baldrics, and to Spring Grove for their 36th consecutive year dancing on Box Hill - an amazing record.



Design Festival, Kingston, Monday 5th May

Not part of the official programme this year (ahem) we stayed by the attractive Kingston riverside, and danced a good spread of our repertoire including the new Lichfield (Sherriff's Ride and Jenny Lind) and the Manx sword.  Plenty of space, sunshine, a scattering of enthusiastic spectators, and good beer from The Ram.  There didn't seem to be much else happening to justify calling this a May Merrie (a few pop groups, a bit of face-painting, an old plane...) and when we 'flash-mobbed' Vandals in Clarence Street we drew quite a crowd.  It was clear from people's comments that we'd been missed, so we encouraged everyone to feed this back to Kingston First.  Some of us then went back to the river, hoping to drink and eat in The Bishop. Unfortunately most of the beer was off and food service suspended for half an hour, but the Girls Drinking Club and their hangers-on did stay to carouse a while.  Thanks to everyone, especially Colin who either played or called in every dance. Good to see David able to dance quite a few too.



Richmond May Fair, Saturday 10th May

Despite the dire weather forecasts over previous days Kingston Morris had a wonderful sojourn into the wilds of Richmond.  In almost barmy conditions the side assembled for a quick warm up in the centre of Richmond around the assembled canvassing tables for the forthcoming European elections before moving onto the main event on the Green.  The dancing plan for the stage was quickly adjusted after two late comers arrived.  We were given a very worthy introduction by the MC who told the audience that no Richmond May Fair would be complete without morris dancing – Kingston Council please note!  Everyone got a dance or two on the stage and we performed Bluebells, Adderbury, Young Collins, Bidford, Highland Mary, Bampton and Vandals, Lichfield.  There was no time for other dances but Steve did explain to the audience the significant of our costumes but perhaps rather riskily explained the bells were to ward off evil spirits of which there were none in Richmond apart from UKIP.  I was told by a member of the audience that our performance was very good so well done to Caroline and Ania who were dancing on the stage for the first time.  We then enjoyed two very relaxed 30 minute slots close to the Cricketers.  We danced a whole variety of dances - some well, some challenging but all with fun and laughter.  The Kingston Ladies Drinking Club imbibed various beers which resulted in the best interpretation of Sweet Jenny Jones that I have ever seen.  30 seconds after we concluded our second spot the heavens opened so the side had no choice but to retreat into the pub for cover.  The collections went well and I will be surprised if we have not collected over £100 for Age UK.  All in all a great day and well done everyone.



The Cricketers and White Cross, Richmond, Monday 12th May

We danced to a friendly crowd outside the Cricketers, getting through a selection of the Lichfield, Bidford and Bampton dances those present know best (well done Ania, Caroline, Lesley, Helena and Jane, and thanks to Ben, Alan and Kathy for calling and saving my croaky voice). We enjoyed Datchet's vigorous Border style and friendly banter.  The rain held off until we set out for the White Cross, progressed to steady drizzle when we arrived and didn't let up thereafter. We sat undercover, supping ale, watching the river, singing a bit, until the downpour became torrential. (I think it was Jane's mention of ice, wind and rain in 'Rolling down to old Maui' that did it...)



Walton-on-the-Hill Pageant Day and Fayre, Saturday 17th May

We had a fine day out at Walton-on-the-Hill in this classic village procession and fete.  The team parked at the fete and walked up to The Bell where Ben had been enjoying the garden for a good hour before we met up with him, so eager was he to dance.  We used the stand at the Bell to run through the planned Arena dances along with a few others to a generous audience that included Phoenix Clog.  Then down to line up for the procession, and we headed off alternating between Winster and Bampton executing evermore intricate and crowd pleasing figures that tested the sides fitness.  How Gerry played for 30 mins without stopping is beyond me.  Once we reached the fete there was an excruciating wait while each group entered the arena and sat down, which we did in silence as Gerry had disappeared.  There were presentations aplenty then we performed Vandals and Highland Mary for Nine, we might need to work on lining the set up.  Phoenix Clog were making their way back to The Bell where they had parked, dancing at the pubs as they went, so we joined them at the Chequers for one last set, and had a chance to listen to Alan Mead’s excellent box playing, before heading off home.  Well done everyone on a fine and good humoured event.



The New Inn, Petersham and The Boaters, Canbury Gardens, Monday 19th May

It was a good evening, and lovely to be by the river in such balmy weather. Both pubs were much quieter than last year, when I think we danced on a Wed or Thurs evening. Good to have so many out including new dancers, great to have Finlay playing along with Gerry,  and very good to see Robert at Boaters, looking a lot better. Thanks to John for a batch of new sticks :-)



The Royal Oak, Brockham with Box Hill Bedlam Morris, Monday Monday 2nd May

A good turn-out this year meant we were able to perform a large number of dances including all the Lichfield which seem, justifiably, to be everyone's current favourite.  We also danced Bampton including Highland Mary for 9 with Helena joining in, most of our Bidford and Fieldtown Balance the Straw, in which we easily won the stick dropping competition...  The Manx sword however was a great success.  Box Hill Bedlam are extremely friendly and sociable, and good to watch with some interesting dances.  We had a reasonable audience of drinkers outside the pub, on a balmy evening in this attractive village green setting. As the light faded we retired into the pub (empty inside) and filled it music - some great tunes and songs from both sides.  Thanks to Gerry, Colin and Nick for playing, to Ben for transporting the sticks again and everyone who gave lifts.  It was great to have Theresa dancing and also to see Robert looking well.



Twickenham Festival, 7th June

As David is fond of observing, the sun shines on the Morris, and the magic certainly worked yesterday. Torrential rain during the morning stopped on the dot of our meeting time, 10.50, and thereafter the skies cleared to a glorious sunny day. It's always a great day here, and because the weather was so welcome and unexpected, defying the gloomy forecasts all week, the town was in an especially sunny mood and we gathered cheerful and generous audiences.  We danced first at the Holly Road Market, then on to the Fox for refreshment and some good dancing, including a vigorous Upton Stick (Kathy and Colin were especially entertaining!) then to St Mary's Fair where the grass was not as soggy as feared. We danced, enjoyed the complimentary sandwiches and delicious Pimms, and basked in the hot sun.  Next to the White Swan, a pleasant wide space by the river, and on to our last stop, the Barmy Arms. Here we reprised some favourites to involve all dancers (including Princes Royal, Young Collins and Vandals) and gathered enthusiastic audiences as usual.  We finished at around 4.30 and several of us stayed on to enjoy the beer, the sun and the river.  Thanks to everyone, especially for good music and calling (Ben was particularly busy!) - and to John for taking a batch of short sticks for much-needed renovation.



The Masons Arms and The Anglers, Teddington, 9th June

We started the program at The Masons Arms with Stepping Out Racing Back In from the deluge tradition.  The heavens opened as we were about to start so we had to endure nearly an hour of drinking, singing and listening to fine music.  We did start dancing just before 9pm and the pent up energy of the assembled dynamic dancers was released through a number of spectacular dances performed with passion and unexpected interpretation in equal measure.  We finished the spot with a classic rendition of Signpost.  On to the Anglers and for the first time ever we danced on a pedestrian bridge across the Thames.  I know we are good but the earth did actually move for us as we unnaturally all kept in step in the Winster Processional which caused the bridge to definitely sway.  Not since the famous Monty Python fish slapping sketch has there been such excitement at Teddington Lock.  A small but enthusiastic crowd (ok 10 people) saw another vigorous performance of old favourites.  We finished as the rain started again with the musicians looking rather too smug from their rain shelter.



Midsummer by the River, White Cross, Richmond and Barmy Arms, Twickenham, 18th June

I've seen Morris dances in the rain with umbrellas, but wading (even in the wellies apparently on offer at the bar) would be a step too far, we all thought, contemplating several inches of high river tide over our usual dancing spot outside the White Cross.  Several of us had a long walk round to get there as the riverside road was deeply submerged for a long stretch.  The water went down quite quickly after 8 o'clock and we started the show on the road at the side of the pub, two rounds of a dance each.  Greensleeves, Ellington, Old Palace Clog and Phoenix Clog were with us (Box Hill Bedlam cancelled).  We danced Jenny Lind, then Highland Mary.  Due to injury Phoenix were short at this point, so I made up the 4th for their dances in full KM kit.  We enjoyed watching the others and the sunset over the river, then after a mass BGG we left for Twickenham.

We regrouped at the Barmy Arms for three more rounds (of dances - I didn't count the drinks) squeezing in an extra one for ourselves and Greensleeves by doubling up in Banbury Bill and Vandals.  We also danced Ring o' Bells, and Young Collins with a beautiful new set of short sticks - thanks John!  Ellington were on good form as always, as were Greensleeves, and both clog sides were great to watch and congenial company.  Colin joined us here in mufti but with melodeon, and with Gerry, Nick and I we produced a big sound - good for the mass BGG here that stretched nearly back to the slipway. The food was good and plenty of it for once (I'd ordered more in expectation of greater numbers, and asked for more vegetable content).  As David commented, the pub and the whole riverside area were very quiet despite the lovely warm weather.  Strange - football effect perhaps, but we all enjoyed it, as did the other sides, they've told me. Thanks to everyone for a successful Midsummer by the River.



Hammersmith Riverside with London Pride Morris Men, 23rd June

It was a beautiful summer’s day, then as we met with London Pride at Hammersmith riverside the skys opened and the myriad people packed up and went home bar a scattering of brave souls.  Fortunately David arrived, and with his arrival the rain stopped and dancing began prefaced by a football simile from Steve.   As we danced and the riverside dried off, the people returned and after a while we headed up river from the Blue Anchor to the Old Ship for a second stand.

London Pride and Spring Grove Morris Men’s repertoire had an excellent overlap.  We mixed and matched members for dances, taking turns leading old favourites with Ben leading Vandals with great clarity and David leading Banks of the Dee, and it gave the old stagers an opportunity to roll out some less performed dances such as William & Nancy and Dearest Dickey.  Gerry and Sue were joined by Peter on a hurdy gurdy, Peter(2) on melodeon and Jeremy on alto sax that produced a novel sound to dance to.  We taught and danced Highland Mary for Nine to Jeremy playing an inventive blues Sax set, and we danced a memorable Shepherds Hey and Maid of the Mill.  A lovely evening with great dancing sites, and London Pride were a good side to meet up with.  I hope we dance with them again.



The Thames Court, Shepperton with Jayden Spillane, 30th June

It was a great evening and fantastic to have Jayden with us, an extremely competent and lively dancer from down under (Black Joak Morris, a mixed side from Sydney). Best of all he knew a lot of our dances (Bampton, Adderbury, Lichfield, Brackley, Upton...) and was very friendly and tolerant of our fumbles. Unfortunately he's heading home on Wednesday, having danced with several groups who all, like us, would have loved to kidnap and keep him.  "Never mix sides in Upton Stick" said Colin but we all survived the exhilarating set-to and no one fell in the river. It was a beautiful evening, rain-washed and clear, and a small but enthusiastic audience cheered every move. Thanks to everyone but especially David for announcing and collecting (dancing a bit too).



Yateley Morris Men's Day of Dance, Saturday 5th July

We were up bright and early and made it in plenty of time, joining Thames Valley, Customs and Exiles, Ellington, Fool's Gambit and Graham Bungay - a surprise addition to our ranks - at Yateley Manor School.  Chris Benson (Greensleeves) was also with us.  Eventually the coaches arrived and we headed off to the Princess Royal pub, Farnham where Steve joined us. The pub was deserted at that hour but there was at least one outside spectator (a friend of ours from Farnham). We danced Bidford Princes Royal (of course) and a mass William and Nancy Bledington (not too badly - very good practice for us).  The next stop was Tilford Rural Life Centre, equally deserted but we had fun getting through a lot of dances including an all-male Jockey (with Chris B, Graham and Gerry dancing) and an all-female Banbury Bill.  Those of us who had felt it was too early for a drink at the Princess Royal were parched by this time, so the lunch stop at Tongham (White Hart) was very welcome (the food was good too). We danced a bit here, then Steve left and the rest of us made our way up the hill to the Hogs Back Brewery.  After a couple of dances at the brewery the threatening clouds burst into a heavy downpour. At this point most of us explored the shop or took other shelter, but Customs and Exiles carried on, getting completely soaked, as did Fool's Gambit, including a puddle jumping jig from one young man (concluding with him lying down in a pool on the tarmac).  Back on the coaches we headed for the Crabtree pub, Camberley, where at last there was a bit of an audience. Our Manx Sword went well here, and the mass dances included Young Collins Bledington - easy to pick up and more good practice.  The other sides were great to watch especially super-springy Fool's Gambit (well, they are almost all still in their teens) and snappy Customs and Exiles with their terrific band.  After tea back at the school we processed to the Dog and Partridge, where a large and enthusiastic audience had gathered on the green. Here we performed two show dances each (ours were Ring o' Bells Lichfield and Shepherd's Hey Bidford) and mass dances. Four Kennet men joined us here and danced a double jig, to music from a modified tiny (toy) melodeon. There was a bit of drama: the idyllic scene of pub, village green and church was shattered as a car reversed violently into a wall then shot forward, straight through the church's lych gate, snapping its roof off, then into a tree in the churchyard. The driver, shocked but apparently not injured, said her automatic ran away with her.  The dancing carried on, culminating in a mass Bonny Green Garters; all in all a good day, very well organised by our generous and welcoming hosts, Yateley.  Most of us left at this point, with Colin and Graham staying for the evening - see below.


Postscript from Colin:
Yateley had lots of beer, wine and drinks left, so we were corralled back to the school where Fool's Gambit took to the playground climbing equipment. Dinner was the excellent pies and ratatouille, and then we had songs from Yateley, Fool's Gambit, Ellington, Customs and Exiles and both Colin (Country Life) and Graham (Over the Hills).  After the tables were cleared we danced until we called it a day and headed off home.


Corpus Christi Primary School International Day, Kingston, Friday 11th July

Special thanks to Chris Benson who came to Corpus Christi and played pipe and tabor for us, thus enabling Sue to dance.  This meant we had a full side and were able to dance Banbury Bill, Young Collins and Balance the Straw without any adaptation.  We were warmly welcomed by the schoolchildren and the six children who came up to do Young Collins sticking with us managed very well.  It was also a pleasure to watch the English children doing their country dance, followed by a little Portuguese boy dancing with his mother and then a group of Polish children singing and dancing.  Children of many other nationalities had taken part in this International Day concert and it was lovely to see them decked out in their national costumes. We enjoyed being part of it.


Ewell St Mary's Morris Men's Day of Dance, Saturday 12th July

Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men celebrated their 35th birthday with their oldest friends who had helped them through the first 5 years to becoming an established side. Spring Grove, sans Robert who was not well, Thames Valley joined Ewell who kicked off the day at the Famous Green Man in Ewell.  We processed to Ewell Village Fair at St Mary's via the lock-up where Phil and Laurie came a creditable second at "refreshing the wastrel". Ted took charge of the microphone at St Mary's, so there was less dancing but much amusement with jokes and a song from the Mayor.  Id took the seat for the gurning completion, and after a fine Shepherds Hey Bidford we broke for a packed lunch at the Wheatsheaf.  The tight space here made for one of the best Constant Billy Headington we’ve danced, then it was on the coach tour.

At the Running Horse we pulled in Alan Mead and Peter Collins, old Spring Grove members, and Alan Bull, who changed out of his blue plumage into proper morris kit, to join us for a well executed 9 man Highland Mary.
Hatchlands Park (a fine Georgian house by architect Robert Adam) provided afternoon tea and ice-cream, and an audience of children who were delighted by Mick Seagent’s entertainments to which the dancing played a small part.  We danced at two pubs in Gomshall, at the Compasses Abraham Brown that was the best executed dance of the day, with perfect timing, spacing, lines and not a foot wrong.  The ex-Hong Kong Morris Man sought me out to say that it was arguably the best dance of the day, and how impressed he was by the progress SGM had made over the last 10 years.  Well done.  The best crowd pleaser was Maid of the Mill Brackley at the Gomshall Mill, it held the audience’s attention all the way to the end.  Then off to the last dancing spot at the Jolly Coopers in Epsom where the heavens opened with a brief but intense shower, a sign that triggered a song spot featuring Sue.  Not to be defeated by the rain, now passed, Steve wrestled enough dancers out for a Sherrif’s Ride.  Our final stop was the feast in a large, featureless and soulless new scout hall, the food was magnificent and topped by a superb pavlova after which SGM stood down and.  A dance from Ewell and a few songs with the tour survivors and I too headed off, when Ewell finished we may never know.



Long Ditton Village Fair, Sunday 13th July

We assembled behind the Surbiton Royal British Legion Youth Marching Band. As the premiership side they are, they were slightly concerned about the state of the turf they were about to perform on, however Alan, Ben, Caroline, Glenis, Jane, Kathy, Laurie, Leslie, Phil, Sue and Nick stepped out in bright sunshine and performed Vandals, Highland Mary for 9 among others without mishap. Afterwards retiring gladly into the shade of the bar for a cooling refreshing drink. 

Then on to the Dittons to be greeted with a complimentary drink before performing in front of a large and appreciative audience. Laurie made a great job of announcing the dances loudly and humorously. A whole host of tiny fans watched intently and tried to imitate us from the sidelines, and very soon joined us in a special clapping dance choreographed by Glenis and later in Bonny Green Garter, they also shouted 'bang' enthusiastically to provide the sound effect of the sticks hitting the ground in Young Collins. The audience watched intently and many parents took advantage of the photo opportunity although shying away from participation themselves!  It was a one of those magical sessions where the dancing was tight and everything seemed to go right. After being stepped down by the squire, we sat in the garden and made merry for a pint or two more, enjoying the company and the setting.  Special congratulations to Kathy who called several dances, other callers included Alan, Glenis and Ben.  Thanks to Sue, Nick and Alan for providing excellent music throughout the day and well done to Phil for taking his hat round the audience and collecting over £32 for Age UK.  Dona, the Fair organiser and Phil, the Dittons Landlord were delighted with our performances and both would be very pleased to have us back again.


Ducklington day of dance, Saturday 19th July

Three car loads headed for the Cotswolds prepared for extreme weather (hot sun and thunderstorms forecast). In Ben's car we arrived early enough for coffee and delicious bacon sandwiches in Stow-on-the-Wold.  Toni's expert use of the sat nav got us to the Horse and Groom, Upper Oddington, in good time but unfortunately the sharp-angled ramp down to the pub car park caught the trim of our front wheel and caused a puncture. Not a great start but Ben made short work of changing the wheel and was back ready to dance in no time.  One of several highlights to the day was having Robert back with us - dancing!  At the Horse and Groom we danced in the (quiet) road alongside Ducklington, Brighton Morris Men, Datchet  and Hook Eagle - including a Highland Mary for Nine with Robert, Young Collins and Vandals.  On to the King's Head, Bledington, the lunch stop but dancing carried on throughout.  We were really keen to dance William and Nancy here, so I asked the Brighton men to join us, hoping to hide behind them but they wouldn't let us (!) and it did go really well – Steve (not with us due to ankle injury) would have been proud. Several dances here included Bidford Shepherd's Hey, Ring o' Bells and Headington Constant Billy.  Clouds were lowering as we left Bledington and rain did stop play at the next pub, The Swan Inn, Ascott-under-Wychwood. Not for long however, just long enough for Brighton to dance a version of Monk's March with tankards in a ridiculously small space inside the pub. Here we danced Abraham Brown and Jenny Lind (and got soaked, and covered with grit from the roof).  At the Fox Inn, Leafield, under hot sun in another perfect village green setting, we danced two Fieldtown dances, Balance the Straw and Banks of the Dee, plus Adderbury Bluebells (with combined calling by Kathy and I). Eynsham Morris joined us here - a distinctive style, great to watch – and a women's clog side who only danced here (I didn't discover their name). Brighton – a very friendly crowd, great dancers and the life and soul of the party all day – muscled in on Datchet's hat dance and danced an entertaining Over the Hills spread out along the road. Thunder rumbled as we left here, and we arrived at The Royal Oak Ramsden in heavy rain. Cue for a song session in the pub with Brighton, and another dance between the pub tables (I thought the last space was ridiculously small, but this was crazy). Soon the rain cleared, followed by bright, low sun and we danced Banbury Bill and our trademark Princes Royal.  We stood down here, as did Datchet and Hook Eagle, and some of us headed home. Ben's party went to Ducklington (the prettiest village of all) where Duck, Brighton and Eynsham danced on and some food was on offer, but we fancied a proper meal so went on to Witney, then home.  A brilliant day with friendly and energetic sides – especially Brighton (hope we can meet up with them again).


Surrey Oaks, Newdigate with Ewell StMMM, Thursday 24th July

An enjoyable outing to a lovely old pub, deep in the Surrey countryside, as guests of our friends Ewell St Mary Morris Men.  We were a mixed group of dancers, some more confident in the older and some in the newer dances in our repertoire, but we did well considering that and the horrible dancing surface. At least one spectator (Ewell musician Kate Jackson) was impressed with our mastery of several different traditions and styles of dance.  Ewell gave a good display of their distinctive and vigorous dances.  Mark (Ward) and Chris (Benson) were with us and added stylish percussion (washboard) and bass (serpent) to a lively music session afterwards.
The Bell, Walton on the Hill, Tuesday 5th August
Roosters were few in number but congenial company for this pleasant evening's dancing in a lovely woodland setting.  They and other audience were complimentary about the many different styles of dance we perform (including the sword, which impressed as usual despite a scrappy first figure). I hope Gerry's family, visiting from the US, found it an interesting introduction to Morris.  Our first dance was Jenny Lind, then it felt a bit weird that Roosters followed this with a different dance, different tune but identical sticking.  Our 'Scottish' repertoire - Highland Mary for 9, and Bluebells - went well.  Three of us joined with Roosters to make a side for William and Nancy, Colin helped out with Monk's March, and with their six and our ten dancers we had two sets for Vandals for the finale.

Woodies Beer Festival, New Malden, Saturday 16th August

As Ben, Anna, Caroline, Colin, David, Glenis, Jane, John, Kathy, Laurie, Robert, Gerry, Colin, Nick and finally Georgina gathered at Woodies - an impressive quantity on foot, bike and bus - it soon became clear that the day would be full of decisions from which dances to do to which beers to try.  After discussions in our base camp blue tent we started the first set of six dances with Highland Mary for 9 and finished off with the death defying sword dance.  We then broke for sandwiches and more thirst quenching :-).  We met His Worship the Mayor of Kingston - Councillor Ken Smith - during our interval; he had never heard of us!  He invited us to a guided tour of the Mayor's Parlour.  Then into our second set with Young Collins, finishing off with Bonny Green Garter. T his set was watched by a much larger audience who seemed to enjoy the show very much and gave generously to the potty collection, feeling it a worthy cause.  Laurie did another excellent job of announcing the dances and a whole host of skillful calling from Glenis, Kathy, Ben, Colin, John and Robert made sure we danced in unison.  All dances were accompanied by the brilliant maestros Gerry, Colin and Nick. Thanks to Toni for taking the potty round.  Also congratulations to David who was on a definite winning streak that day and won everything from fluffy toys to the first prize in the raffle - a clock!  The whole afternoon was full of copious laughter and good cheer.

10th Croydon Night of Dance, 19th August
11 sides turned out, though a fair number had a bare 4 dancers.  Best music goes to Steampunk and best dance to Wild Hunt.  The large number of sides meant that it was an evening of chatting to friends and drinking beer rather than dancing, and for all that quite enjoyable.  As sole representative (in kit) I danced with London Pride and St Albans and played for the Winster between the two pubs.  As an evening spent in congenial company it was a great success.

New Inn, Ham Common, with Thames Valley MM, Tuesday 26th August
Ben, Phil, John, David and Colin with Sue playing enjoyed a quiet evening with Thames Valley at the New Inn on Ham Common as the morning and previous day's rain gave way to just cold and damp.  The few punters who braved the outside huddled in their jumper and coats while we who are made of sterner stuff mixed in with Thames Valley to make a series of combined sets working alternately through our and their repertoire.  Brave were the few souls from both sides who stepped into the strange territory of unknown traditions, quickly guessing what might be the outcome of an unfamiliar call.  We all agreed the outcome was successful and the dancing enjoyable, finally drawing to a close when exhaustion took its toll.

Spring Grove, Kingston, Monday 1st September
Tradition was not broken and just as the last few times we have met at the Spring Grove in the summer it was raining as we arrived.  Luckily the drizzle did not last long and by 8:15 we were out in the garden dancing.  Having cleared to the side several wet tables and chairs we were left with a good space in which to dance.  We didn't really have an audience, but that didn't matter as we were able to practise dances for Kew and repeat and 'polish' them when necessary.  We had a good turn out, which meant although several key dancers were missing (still on hols) we had enough people to take their places and we even had two sets for Banbury Bill.  A very enjoyable evening.


School House Lane Gardens Summer Party, Saturday 6th September
Thank you everyone who came yesterday.  We had a great turnout, more than expected.  It seemed every time we blinked, a new person appeared down the lane!  Dancers who came were Anna, Ben, Caroline, Colin, Jane, Kathy, Lesley, Phil, Alan, Laurie, Id and me.  Musicians included Gerry, Colin, Alan, Caroline and Mark.   We were warmly welcomed by the organisers and the families who were gathered there and they were appreciative of the variety of dances that we did.  They especially enjoyed the sword dance which they had not seen us dance before.  As always when dancing on grass we had to be a little careful as it was somewhat uneven.  When it came to BGG we had a good number of young children and their parents joining in, eager to wave hankies.  Laurie caught the audience's attention with some illuminating introductions and Phil did a great job of taking round the potty and handing out flyers.  At the end of the afternoon Jane Harnden, the organiser, expressed the hope that we would be available to attend next year.

Kew Gardens Flora of Thailand, Thursday 11th September

What a lovely way to spend the last of our evening dancing events of the season in the beautiful Kew Gardens followed by a relaxing dance at the Coach and Horses.  We arrived at the Herbarium to be escorted to the Orangery in secret.  We were asked to remove our hats in case any of the conference guests might discover our identity and were smuggled into a side room while the guests were ushered into the restaurant.  Once belled up and attired with baldrics and hats we were led to the dance area where we were greeted by an enthusiastic audience of international conference attendees.  We danced Highland Mary for Nine, Vandals, Princes Royal and Bluebells.  All of which were very well received. Laurie's announcement that we were going to dance the Manx Sword dance caused a group of ducks to take to the air and spectators to ask if it were dangerous!  They soon realised that it was as Colin looked as if he was going to be beheaded as he threedled (does the word exist?) us swiftly under the raised swords to the audible sound of 'Oohs' and 'Ahs'.  Needless to say it was greeted with enthusiastic applause. In contrast we then danced a more serene Banks of the Dee and finished with Young Collins, in which we invited members of the audience to join us for a simplified version.  Delicious refreshments awaited us on our return to the Green Room.  Well done and thank you to everyone who came, both dancers (Alan, Ben, Caroline, Colin, David, Ian, Jane, John, Kathy, Lauri, Robert, Steve and me) and musicians (Gerry, Nick, Mark, Alan, Colin and Caroline , who showed her versatility by playing both recorder and accordion).  We then went on to the Coach and Horses opposite the Green where we dancing to a small audience and a few passers by. A nice relaxing finish to the evening.

Bromyard Festival, Spring Grove, Kingston, Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September

The Bromyard weekend was a great success.  We were blessed by warm, dry weather and the audiences were always welcoming and appreciative. 
On our journey west Phil directed Gerry's car to the Bell Inn in Adderbury where the three Adderbury sides meet and had a look at the stenciled morris room.  We lunched on gourmet sausages, had a quick walk round to admire the village then on to Robin's. 
All three cars arrived within 10 minutes of each other and Isabel warmly welcomed us with marvellous home cooked cakes, tea and coffee.  Robin took us to Majors, his local pub, where we danced until the magical sunset.Back at Robin's we had a polypin of beer and a wonderful meal, after which Gerry, Nick, Robin and I played some tunes.  There was more flexibility in the sleeping arrangements than we expected with Ben, Robert and Colin sleeping up the ladders in the hay loft, Gerry in a tent and the rest of us in Robin's house.
After breakfast on Sunday Robin led the convoy of cars into Bromyard, we parked at the festival and we walked up into the town to the first pub.  We danced at three sites joined at various times by Silurian, Faithful City, Martha Rhoden's, Shropshire Bedlams, White Hart and Chinewrde.  At the Rose and Lion Silurian's display was a superbly entertaining "Not for Joe" (here's a relaxed version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1-c4fDgf40).  At the Crown and Scepter we had an opportunity to demonstrate a much admired and vigorous Shepherds Hey, after a couple of dour dances from White Hart.  Our hosts, Faithful City, headed off for the stage display and were never seen again, while we took at relaxed lunch at the Hop Pole and listened to the band.  Robin gave up on the disorganised stage display and we completed a final hour's stand together before heading back to our cars and driving home.
It was a memorable weekend, and we are most grateful to Robin and Isabel for inviting us into their home and looking after us so well.

Surbiton Festival, Saturday 27th September

The Surbiton Festival was bigger and better this year.  There were stalls and food outlets in Victoria Rd., St Andrew's Rd., St Andrew's Square and Claremont Gardens and games and fair ground rides for children in the latter two.  Crowds lined the streets for the procession and we were warmly greeted by all.  We danced Winster and a forward version of BGG during the procession trying to keep well back from the exhaust fumes of the vintage cars ahead of us. 

We had a long interval in which to browse the stalls and sample the refreshments on offer and  then we danced for about 45 mins on the grass in front of the inadequate parquet-floored tent in Claremont Gardens.  An audience had gathered for the Irish dancing before us and fortunately they stayed to watch us, too.  It was not the best polished performance of our season, but Laurie's entertaining introductions caught the audience's attention and I think we showed the audience that it was fun to do, as we had lots of volunteers to join in BGG at the end and some people who expressed interest in coming to the try-outs.  One huge problem was that the noise from the carousel next to our dance spot over powered the dulcet tones being produced by Colin, on the melodeon, and Caroline, on the recorder even though they were using a microphone and this made it difficult to call and to keep to the music. 

A huge thank you to Colin and Caroline who were admirably able to switch from one tune to another, under difficult conditions.  Thank you to Laurie for the intros, to all the callers, Steve ( for the procession) and Ben, Kathy and me in the afternoon, and for all those who danced (Anya, Ben, Caroline, Kathy, Laurie, Lesley, Phil, Robert, Id and me) and Phil for taking round the potty and handing out flyers.

The AGM on Monday 29th September draws the 37th successful year to an end.