Log Book for 2015

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


A Visit to the Parlour of the Mayor of Kingston - Monday 17th November

On 17th November Kingston Morris and Spring Grove Morris Men had been invited by The Mayor of The Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, Councillor Ken Smith, to his Parlour in the Guildhall. We were warmly welcomed by the Mayor, Councillor Ken Smith, the Mayoress, Mrs Madeleine Smith, and the Mayor’s Attendant/Mace-bearer.  The Mayor and his Attendant, Brian, showed us the various regalia of office, including the two magnificent 17th century Maces and seal press, various mementos and historic photographs of this ancient and most senior Royal Borough.  As interesting as the objects and pictures was the Mayor's explanation of how the Borough faces its problems. Kingston is a very successful Borough with high levels of Business occupancy and a thriving, skilled workforce but this very success leads to pressures on housing and schools which have to be faced in a time of stringent budgets. It was his ambition to keep the Borough moving forward but to look out for that part of the community whose financial troubles are the most pressing.  This brought him to mention his sponsored charity, designed to help families on tight budgets. These are families whose children can be denied access to all the events available in Kingston via Scouts, Guides, Sea Cadets and Horse Rangers because of lack of funds. His charity is specifically intended to help with the cost of uniforms, trips, camps and equipment to ensure all the Borough’s young people can join in the pleasures these fabulous institutions offer.  KM and SGMM were invited to join his collection drive on 23 December in Kingston and we agreed to try to put a side together for that event and anyway to make a special collection from at least one of our events to help out.  We finished with the Mayor and Mayoress offering fine hospitality of a selection of drinks, sandwiches and cake and the Mayor presented the two Squires (Yes that’s right, Ben and Gerry) with fine metal pins to commemorate the evening.  KM and SGMM offered our thanks for an entertaining and informative visit.


The Mayor stated his focus for his term is to elevate the heritage of Kingston "Where England began". That Morris has been recorded in Kingston upon Thames since 1507 is really quite handy. [Ed]

Seekers Club, New Malden - Monday 24th November

The side entertained members of the Seekers Club and taught them a dance.  it was a nice opportunity for Gerry to take over announcing and for the musicians who joined this season to play out for the first time. [ed]  

Christmas Fair with Thames Valley Morris Men, Thames Ditton - Sunday 30th November

Thames Ditton in Christmas festive spirit has a wonderful fun atmosphere.  With many stands along the High Street, and what seems like all of the Thames Ditton folk, we joined the Thames Valley Morris Men outside the George and Dragon pub for the evening.  We took it in turns to entertain, working through our repertoire.  Sue joined TVMM to dance Vandals, and we later danced alongside TVMM as two sets, ably supported by musicians from both sides.  An excellent evening, enjoyed by all, including our newer musicians.

Present were Sue, David, Robert, Laurie, Kathy, Laurie, Jane, Helena, Caroline, Lesley, Gerry, Janet and Andy.


Candlelit Walk with the Rotary Club of Kingston, Wednesday 10th December

People dressed in our livery were seen, so I guess we were there. [ed]

Kingston Rotary Christmas Festival, Saturday 13th December

Just enough hardy souls turned out on a bright but chilly afternoon to entertain shoppers outside the Bentall Centre, Kingston, helping Kingston Rotary to raise money for their special Christmas appeal. Our dancing spot was beside the 'Rotree' - this turned out to be a (rather underwhelming) blue and silver pyramid tent... 

Heartfelt thanks to Alan Mead (from Ewell St Mary MM) who saved the day by playing for us: we danced two sets with a short tea break in between - a good selection of favourites including almost all our Christmas dances. Audiences gathered, applauded and dispersed, and there was quite a bit of interest. We kept careful watch on a band of 14-year-old boys attracted by our sticks (!) but talking to them later they showed serious interest and all took leaflets. A few of us then retired to The Ram for a warming pint.


Christmas Dinner, Merits Restaurant Richmond Collage, Tuesday 16th December

Merrits delighted us with their usual excellent Christmas Dinner.  The high attendance was supplemented by partners and past active members Alan Mead, Jim Illingworth and Paul Leyland.  Steve presented the Morris Person of the Year to Glenis Ward. [ed]

Christmas Wassail, Spring Grove pub, Monday 22nd December

This year we were joined by our good friends Ewell St Mary's Morris Men and Phoenix Clog and performed a variety of dances often using tradition carols as musical drivers. It was remarked a year ago, that there had been disasterous organisational failing in the "mince pie ordering department" and this was corrected to the great satisfaction of the entire cast.  The event also gave an opportunity for Janet and Andy our new and very welcome musicians to join the band for their first major outing.  Songs and tunes followed and it's fair to say there was no holding back on the volume, with the quality running a close second.  The Old Spring Grove gets a full refit over this winter so it is with some trepidation that we await the transformation of our spiritual home.


Boxing Day Tour with Thames Valley Morris Men, Claygate, 26th December

Escape from the rigours of Christmas chain-eating to a day's dancing is a blessing indeed, and Thames Valley's 5 pub Boxing Day tour was that answer to a prayer.  It never ceases to surprise me how many people turn out to watch, with again audiences at the Hare and Hounds the largest I've seen on Boxing Day.  This year there was a good turn out of TVM so my services dancing were mostly seen at the first and last pubs, and otherwise playing.  Andy made an appearance in mufti, bring your box next time!  TVM's new men Sam and Chris danced in and a healthy band provided rousing music.  Free beer and food, and as ever, an enjoyable day’s dancing.  


Midwinter Mayhem - Twelfth Night after the Winter Solstice, Willoughby Arms, Friday 2nd January

A great evening hosted by Ewell StMMM. Along with Phoenix Clog, Boxhill Bedlam, Black Swan and (three men from) Thames Valley MM we took turns to dance and cheer each other on. KM danced three from our Christmas repertoire: Hark the Herald (Highland Mary), Deck the Halls (Young Collins) and Good King Wenceslas (with the two Thames Valley dancers joining us). This was followed by tunes and singing in the best Ewell tradition - and we won the egg-throwing game!  Thanks to all KM who came to dance and play. Special thanks to Alan Mead for organising this (and playing for us) - and to the brilliant Lord of Misrule, Bob Hayward.


The Funeral of Ben Izard, Squire of The Spring Grove Morris Men, Kingston Cemetery, Thursday 4th February

We laid to rest Ben Izard who was the Squire of Spring Grove Morris Men, a dancer with Kingston Morris, and a friend.  21 members of the side attended at Kingston Crematorium to pay tribute to Ben who had died after a short battle with cancer.  We were accompanied by partners who knew Ben and by The Squire and Bagman of Ewell St Mary’s Morris Men, Alan Mead and Alan Greenwood.  

The hearse drew up at the door to the crematorium and when the tailgate was open we danced The Vandals of Hammerwich – Lichfield which Ben used to call; the set was made up of a line of four Spring Grove facing a line of four Kingston dancers, with Gerry and Sue playing.  While the pall-bearers drew Ben from the hearse the musicians played Idbury Hill and a Morris salute of honour formed up using long sticks to make the arch.  Those for whom there were seats inside followed Ben passed the salute into the crematorium.  So many had attended to say goodbye that the majority had to listen to the service piped outside.

A humanist minster, Sally Wilby read a valedictory written from collected memories of Ben, and Colin read a Morris Obituary of Ben’s time with us.  Ben had a remarkably varied life and always selflessly helped others and worked to build communities, we have been fortunate to have known him.

There was a wonderful spread back at Antonia’s house.  The pork pies were evidence of one of Ben’s great loves, meat, and beer another.  It was a good wake to send him off.

Seething Wells Festival, Sunday 1st March

We gathered in on a bright but breezy afternoon in St Andrews Square in Surbiton for the annual event and procession that celebrates the local legend of Lefi Ganderson, the goat boy of Seething Wells.  There was a good turn out so we performed a brief set of three dances in front of the stage starting with a nine man Highland Mary. Recent rain and a heavy footfall had turned the ground to a treacherous, sticky, mud and dancing with any fineness was impossible.  Urged on by a generous band of musicians the dancers struggled manfully on with Jenny Lind (Lichfield) and Young Collins (Bidford) before being summoned for the parade.  The breeze had strengthened by the time the procession got under way and dancers and musicians were very grateful for the warmth provided by the new side fleeces (thanks again to John for organising this addition to our kit).  With no other band this year, Kingston Morris led the parade off with a lively Bampton tune. The windy conditions meant that there were no guild banners this year but there were lots of cheeses and sardines, accompanied by four guinea pigs, a bat and a fine dragon as well as Lefi the goat boy himself.  Additional percussion was provided throughout by a vast range of spoon and pan bashing.  Kingston Morris performed again as soon as the parade returned to the square with a Vandals of Hammerwich followed by an instructional dance for the children of the community.  There were lots of eager participants for this inevitably shambolic but fun interactive version of Shepherds Hey, Jane even persuaded one of the guinea pigs to take part.  The beer tent provided a complementary drink for all dancers and musicians which was gratefully received and there was just enough time before the rain blew in for the Seething Wells company and volunteers from the audience to perform a play which narrated the legend of Lefi Ganderson.  This gave ample opportunity for Id to demonstrate his acting credentials.  At the end of this epic the crowd dispersed to various pubs in the neighbourhood to round off a pleasant Sunday afternoon.


Papa Stour Sword Dance workshop, Saturday 14th March

14 enthusiastic sword dancers attended a workshop led by Colin to learn the Papa Stour sword dance, first noted by Sir Walter Scott in The Pirate published 1822.  After a day's hard work and an excellent shared lunch we had two sets of seven dancers each running through the dance, and no injuries reported.  Thanks to Janet for playing for us and making up numbers for the first session, a real trouper.  With a following wind we'll have the dance out this summer.


Kempton Steam Museum, Sunday 22nd March

One of the most dramatic venues Kingston Morris has ever had, this home of two 1000 ton, 62 foot high steam driven pumping engines in a 100 foot high beautiful early 20th century building. The pictures hardly do justice to this temple of British engineering lovingly restored by a dedicated team that includes our own Morris stalwart Dave Seager.  The "wow" factor could hardly have been bettered. As if that wasn't enough, one of the engines was started and in full flow as we prepared to entertain the visitors.

The melodeons and accordions could not compete with the engine but as it slowed to a stop we stepped up to fill the vast space with a terrific sound. We had 7 musicians in total on full tilt but with some of our audience as much as 50 feet above our heads we needed as much punch as we could find.  The dancers were dwarfed by the massive engines but with a full set in  motion they quickly drew the eye.  This is one of our earliest outings in the season and we were able to spot some "room for improvement" tips for both dancers and musicians.  It was great run through of this winters practice season and the newer members settled particularly well.  The audience was tolerant of any errors and gave us enthusiastic support throughout.

We are all hopeful to make this wonderful venue a staple of our local tours.


Sunbury Roundabout Ladies Club, Tuesday 24th March

It would be hard to find a more appreciative audience than the 30 or so ladies of Sunbury.  They applauded loudly as we performed our hard-studied repertoire and took part in the massed dance at the end.  For us, this was a chance to bring in our new members and some ideas we have tried out through winter's practice season.  Room for improvement? Yes, but we have the right to be pretty pleased with this early outcome.  At one point I dropped out of the music as I lost my way but our new guy Andy, pushed right ahead giving me much needed recovery time and showing the benefit we will get from this years much bigger band.  The dancers performed very well with a variety of dances including Bidford Young Collins, Fieldtown Banks of the Dee, and Lichfield Vandals. The special "Scots" version of Adderbury Bluebells was a hoot and much loved by the audience.  Fieldtown The Valentine was perhaps the highlight and performed with great panache. The Sunbury Ladies looked to be transported to images from their youth while our fine figured men demonstrated the courtship rituals of another age.


International Christian Association, Wimbledon, Tuesday 21st April

Thank you to those that supported Paul’s last minute event last night and especially to Alan Mead for providing excellent music.  Georgina came of age as she had to dance every dance and covered four traditions and did really well.  Once you learn the morris it is difficult to forget as, after 18 years absence, Paul danced like he had never been away ably supported by Colin, Ian and Glenis.


St George's day, The Royal Star and Garter Home, New Malden, Thursday 23rd April

A beautiful day brought us a lunchtime performance at the Star and Garter home for ex service men and women in New Malden.  We joined a worthy group of play actors who performed scenes from Shakespeare for residents and visitors alike for this, St Georges Day.  I arrived in kilt a reminder of the cultural richness of this Great Union. Morris dancing and kilts, uniting the complex heritage of this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the finest of all countries performing for perhaps, the greatest generation these islands ever produced.

We performed a series of well delivered favourites with an aggressive "Skirmish" to wake up the more somnolent members of audience and cast.  David ran through some details on the origins of Morris and we settled to a well prepared lunch in the bar area.

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

Thanks to everyone that came last night, and to the musicians who provided us with an excellent sound.  I think we all agree it was a great evening even the weather was good to us.  Toni was kind enough to come and present two new sticks in Ben's memory; one for Spring Grove Morris and the other for Kingston Morris.  The sticks are excellent which we have to thank Steve for arranging to have them decorated, Marvin Evans for the protective end caps, and Zoe Green for the pyrography.  The highlight of the evening was Phil, Helena, and Leslie gaining their baldrics, many congratulations.

John (SGMM Squire)

The evening was very well attended and backed by an substantial audience.  We covered a major part of our repertoire but the highlight was easily the jigs which brought first Helena and Lesley (double Fieldtown Nutting Girl) and then Phil (Bidford Princes Royal) their rosettes all were presented to excited acclaim.  So strong is our team in numbers and quality that we could put out Spring Grove and Kingston in separate teams for a mass Valentine.

Toni Izard, wife of our late comrade Ben, brought along two beautifully pyrographed Morris sticks to present to Spring Grove Morris and Kingston Morris who performed Ben's favourite dance Lichfield Vandals of Hammerwich in his honour.  Ania arrived with an enthusiastic cohort of friends and relatives from Poland who took part in the events, and Mick, the much loved Guv'nor of the G & D, rustled up some chips for all.

Congratulations to Helena, Lesley and Phil.

Gerry (KM Squire)

May Day, Box Hill - Friday 1st May

Assembling at 5 am with colleagues from Ewell St Mary and Rampant Rooster (Dorking) we danced to the Winster Processional up to the Lookout on Box Hill.  The weather was cold but thankfully dry and the usual audience of early morning walkers looked on enthusiastically.  Kingston and Spring Grove took part and the mass dances, looked particularly impressive.

A special mention to SGMM who performed a near perfect "Signposts" accompanied by the very accomplished Alan Mead as guest musician for a continuous 37th appearance on Box Hill at dawn.  By 6.30 we headed back to Ewell and the Wheatsheaf pub. A welcome full breakfast and many songs and tunes accompanied the convivial chat.  The three man Ewell Jig to the tune of Princess Royal was a close up reminder of how good this top team is and again Alan showed that he is a truly fine musician.


Kingston May Merry - Monday 4th May

Weather smiled on the Morris as we set about our first stand in Clarence St, Kingston surrounded by a huge audience measured in the hundreds. The town was in a busy and festive mood and crowds kept up throughout the day. The first set was to be our longest and we had a very full compliment so could lead off with a Highland Mary for 9 dancers. Elegantly done for a such a large group of dancers. Timing was fine and all dancers got off to a flawless start.  Among other highlights Balance the Straw was performed at a much slower pace than a week ago (this was true throughout the day) and the dancers benefited. Yes, they were unlucky as two sticks on the long throw crashed into each other but the dance steps, moves, lines etc. were perfect and the music was demonstrably more relaxed.

Our own numbers thinned due to other commitments after the first stand.  The second stand in the Market Square was well attended and many a young Prince and Princess made their way to the front to see the days main event.  Well overdue, Caroline was presented with her baldrics for dancing.  She could equally have earned them for her extraordinary melodeon playing (from nothing, she has learned this instrument to a very high standard in less than 9 months) but her heart is in the dancing.  After the usual "Hurrahs!" Caroline took the stage for our Princes Royal, how appropriate in the week of new Princess Charlotte's birth.  The children were eventually let loose on stage to join a mass Shepherds Hey complete with clapping.  This looked chaotic, of course, but also more fun than the more usual Bonny Green Garters.  The final set back in Clarence St was the shortest.  The dancing and playing were very relaxed and possibly the best of the day.  Andy took over lead duties on the music and we ended as we started bathed in sunshine.  Glad to be back at the Kingston May Merrie.


Richmond May Fair - Saturday 9th May

I thought I had seen it all in the morris world but today a star was born at the White Cross.  His talents have clearly been well hidden for some time but his interpretation of Valentines was truly amazing.  Chantel had been volunteered by her friends to appear in Valentines as it was her hen party.  I have to say that she seemed a little less keen than all her friends.  The dance followed the usual start with the men saluting her beauty and testing her honour in the well established way.  However, when the men offered their bodies unto the maiden, Id went into overdrive.  His hips suddenly broke loose and his gyrations caused the watching women to gasp in admiration.  Their eyes then followed his every move for the rest of the dance.  I had thought of changing the dance programme on the Richmond Green stage to include Valentines but I thought it best to avoid mass hysteria.  Instead we danced Highland Mary, Young Collins, Jenny Lind, Banks of the Dee and the White Boys sword dance all of which went down well with the large audience.  We then danced a simple version of Bonny Green Garters on the grass with several volunteers and their parents!  We finished with a relaxed set of fun dances outside the Prince’s Head by which time the sun was out and life was very pleasant.  Well done to all the dancers today and to the musicians for providing a great depth of sound, especially on the stage.


Ham Polo Club - Sunday 10th May

On a hot and sunny day, a small group of us were warmly welcomed by the Mayor, and the event coordinator, at the Ham Polo Club, and invited to use the members pavilion to watch the matches.  We were given a great introduction via the PR system, before we started our performance in front of an interested but limited audience.  As the first match of the season spectator numbers are often rather low. We started with a Princes Royal, Bidford, outside the Members Pavilion, and despite the limited numbers and experience, we followed this with Young Collins, Highland Mary (this time only for 6), Constant Billy (both Headington and Adderbury traditions), Jenny Lind (Lichfield) and Banbury Bill before finishing with Vandals. The potties were passed and were returned full of notes and coin (over £100) to help the Mayor’s Charities.  The staff and audience (members) were very welcoming and very generous, and are keen for us to return to support another charity event.  We then adjourned to the public side of the ground for some ‘Chukka Tucker’ whilst watching the first game.  Between matches we held a short stand of Jenny Lind (Lichfield) and Abraham Brown before entertaining the young Horse Rangers with Balance the Straw. We had just enough time before the Scouts and Guides marching band performance to dance BGG with the brilliant young Horse Rangers, under the inspired tuition by Colin.  With the pending start of the second match we stood down for the day.  The potty collection was passed to the Mayor’s team.  Some of us then returned back to the Members Pavilion to enjoy the sunshine and the second match  - and of course some liquid refreshment. Watching polo it seemed was as relaxing as watching cricket in the sunshine, but work was not over; we had to help replace the divots again at half time.


Bloomfield Road Street Party and St John's Church Fete, Spring Grove, Kingston - Saturday 16th May

A fine day for the local Bloomfield Rd Fair featuring St John's Church and the Spring Grove Pub our very own practice ground and refreshment venue. Some late rearranging on the music side as part of the team got held up in local traffic but thanks to Steve, Colin, Andy and Helena the show went ahead on time. 
We moved to the Spring Grove Pub for tunes and pints to see the fine job the Brewery have made of our regular haunt.
The second set fitted in after the dog and hat show, an unusual departure from the norm but all Morris participants were barred on a technicality so no prizes for KM. By now a full compliment of musicians had arrived and Georgina danced up to receive her baldrics to general celebration and cheers.
The dancing was well crafted and with a strong team present the whole side leant a great deal of colour to the event.

After the second stand we were stood down and a hardened core of six beer aficionados moved on to the Kingston Beer Festival for a quick half.  We drank, played music and were often asked if we were going to dance, finally departing some five hours, and numerous halves later.
Fine beers and great day for a worthy local cause.
Gerry and Colin

Richmond with London Pride Morris Men - Tuesday 19th May

We gathered at the Princes Head on Richmond Green and were joined by London Pride Morris Men, though unfortunately only three of their side were able to attend.  The evening looked promising and we started with the Vandals of Hammerwich, followed by Young Collins and then continued with a selection from our repertoire.  The music this evening was provided by Gerry, Andy, Helena, and Peter from London Pride.  Just as we were in full swing the heavens opened, we all then made a dash for the pub once inside, and to the incredulity of the side, we danced Constant Bill.  That dance also had the biggest audience, the best reception, and where most of the collection was taken.  At the White Cross there were a few keen enthusiasts watching the dancing from the pub balcony, as the light was beginning to fade two ladies were eager to join in the dancing,  Id obliged and gave us his finest rendition of Valentine.  After the dancing concluded Helena headed inside and started playing on the balcony overlooking the Thames,  so we packed up and joined her in the upstairs room.  We played, joined by London Pride's Peter on his Hurdygurdy and Barry on his recorder, interspersed with songs, notably from Ian who led the Holmfirth Anthem "Where the pratty pratty flowers grow".


Robin Hood Festival, The Fairfield Kingston - Monday 25th May

It was good to be there yesterday - and highly appropriate as the first mentions of Morris in Kingston (celebrated on our KM baldrics) came from the churchwardens' accounts of the Robin Hood games, started in Kingston probably a few years before 1507. We had a warm reception at this newly-revived festival, both for our dancing and the very popular children's workshops (quite a challenge, with mostly very small children - thanks to Glenis for taking charge!).  White Boar and Company of 1415 gave some striking and entertaining demonstrations of medieval combat and archery, including one brave man who stood as a target for the archers.  Robert may have some good photos and video (?).  Thanks so much to everyone who came (Ania, David, Robert, Glenis, Laurie, Id, Gerry, Andy, Kathy and Caroline for most of the time, and me).  We did really well considering how stretched we were, not only through small numbers but my injured shoulder that still objects to stick dances.  Laurie was a brilliant announcer, and special thanks to Gerry and Andy for music.


Wednesday 3rd June, The Boaters, Kingston
A little chilly but still a dry night at Boaters, a favourite venue for KM. We were ably accompanied by our old friends Phoenix Clog who bring such  a contrast to the Cotswold sets of KM.  Early in the evening enthusiastic audience participation was offered from a couple of younger ladies. They joined in (Bampton) Banbury Bill, together with Sara, Helena, Glenis and Robert (with Sue coaching).  The same girls and the guys then danced (Bidford) Young Collins as the final dance when we were finishing.
A touring  Japanese group with young children in tow were captivated with the KM performance and with child suitably "hatted" in Morris kit many, many pictures were taken.  Dancing just gets better as the season progresses and, while audience numbers were low, it allowed a relaxed atmosphere to bring on the newly "baldriced" and "rosetted" members to shine.


Monday 8th June, The Weir, Walton
“O, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't!” ― William Shakespeare (The Tempest) 

Shakespeare could have written these words for a Morris sides just like KM.  We braved a brisk evening in the seclusion of the Weir Pub by the Thames. Alone as we were, we performed for the love of music and dance. We experimented with Tunes and Dances and kept up a quality performance throughout the evening for our own enjoyment and the one or two passers-by who trailed along the river path.   The odd Labrador stopped and looked perplexed at the crazy Humans but we all to a man or woman loved it, indeed rather than move on to the Swan the side voted to stay at The Weir for the second stand.


Saturday 13th, Twickenham Festival
This is always a favourite event for KM and once again started with glorious weather.

It shaped up nicely at the Twickenham Farmers market. By popular acclaim (really editor?) I was pressed into the first dance, Young Collins, leaving the music in the hands of Caroline, Colin and Helena. I fumbled a little but colleagues rallied round to save my blushes with nods and winks acting as direction finders. Ania pushed and pulled me along to a generous round of applause at the end.
Still it was back to my beloved melodeon for the rest of the set.

Midday approached as we stopped in at the Eel Pie Pub which was a departure from our usual stop at The Fox. It provided more space which turned out to be very welcome as some of the largest crowds of the season assembled along Church St.  Colin's work as MC was loud as a bell and dancing had an easy relaxed style, as a musician, its evident that newer dancers are less tense with each passing event. Lines were excellent and a certain panache was clear throughout the whole set. Maid of the Mill (Brackley) proved popular with the crowd.  We saw the Mayoral party approaching along Church Street as we danced Banbury Bill (Bampton) and posed for a photograph with the Mayor of Richmond.

St Mary's Church is our traditional dance/lunch spot and we caught up with the Mayor and Mayoress whom we had seen earlier. This was fortuitous as, at this stand, Ania was awarded with her well deserved baldrics, and the Mayor was co-opted to make the presentation. We also met Jane Horrocks and posed for a photograph.

After lunch we moved on to the Swan. Again, big crowds appeared to enjoy the performance. We were approached by a group who wanted a special dance for one of their number Paul, who had a birthday that day. The group came in to help a shy Paul join in with a mass "Bonny Green Garter".

Our last stand was the Barmy Arms and by now people were actually following us from one stand to the next!  The audience was fascinated by the sword dance (Whiteboys) and a roar was heard when the the sword star was hoisted.  Great day


Some of the side returned to The White Swan to relax after the long day of dancing and playing, and to sample the offerings of the pub's beer festival. [- KM Ed]

Wednesday 17th June, Gray's Inn summer Party, Gray's Inn Gardens
It was good to see a full turnout for SGMM.  We all met in the Cittie of Yorke pub in Holborn before proceeding into Gray's Inn Gardens where we were met by Annie Herriott, in charge of proceedings, who invited us to sample any of the offerings
during the evenings event.

The central area was filled with stalls and marquees providing a tempting array of fine foods and drinks.  Our first set started off with Bluebells of Scotland and including Recruiting Sargent and Jenny Lind, we were fortunate to have, Gerry, Helena, and Nick to provide the music for us this evening.  During the interval we did as we were told and sampled many of the different foods and of course, had to try the various beers and wine available.  While we were relaxing, feasting and quenching our thirst, Helena suggested we should try our skills at throwing the wellie stand, Id started and took a mighty swing and promptly let it slip backwards to hit Ian on the side of the head with a resounding blow, a few others tried their various techniques but the winner was John by a metre and a half.  The second set included Princes Royal, Constant Billy, and concluded with Upton-upon-Severn Stick Dance, and Bonny Green Garters.

After the dancing was over we helped to reduce the stock outstanding at the beer tasting stand, and when that ran out we moved back to the Cittie of Yorke and then via the Beer House at Waterloo (while awaiting a train) back home.

John and Colin

Thursday 25th June, The Midsummer Morris, Twickenham
We gathered at the White Swan by Twickenham's riverside on a perfect summers evening, the sides attending were SGMM, Thames Valley, Yateley, and a couple of members from Westminster, we had melodeon, accordion, and flute players providing the music with Gerry and Andy playing for SGMM.  Spring Grove started the evening Balance the straw, then each side performed in turn their chosen dance, the audience was very enthusiastic and thoroughly enjoyed the evenings entertainment, one dance in particular they seemed to enjoy by SGMM, was Jenny Lind with a rapturous applause as we finished.  Shortly afterwards we moved along to the Barmy Arms, where we me up with Kingston Morris and Ewell St Mary, where we continued with an evening of dance and music.  It was also that time for another member of our side to receive his baldrics Andy our accordion player had earned his stripes.  Steve made the announcement and John presented them, to a round of applause.  Towards the end of the evening there was a pleasant surprise, Antonia Izard presented SGMM and Kingston Morris, with a beautifully decorated stick box built by our recently deceased Squire Ben Izard.  At the end of this most enjoyable evening we made our way to the Barmy Arms Where we enjoyed a delicious buffet and well earned beer.


Saturday 26-28th June, Ravensbourne Ale
Ravensbourne’s weekend began at Keston Village Hall on Friday evening with food to welcome arrivals.  Once beds were set up we de-camped for the Two Doves for an evening of singing and playing.

Saturday started with a full English breakfast, then at 8.45 when the day boys had turned up we boarded our double decker bus for our day of dance, we arrived at Greenwich by the Maritime Museum shortly afterwards then made our way to the Cutty Sark, where in turn we danced for 45 minutes finishing with a mass Bonny Green Garters.  Moving on from Greenwich we made our way to Lewisham at the Glassmills centre where we entertained before moving along to to Ravensbourne Arms, where we enjoyed liquid refreshment before dancing Jenny Lind accompanied by Lewis from Westminster Morris and the Jon Melville the Ring Bagman.  Some of the other sides on tour include,   Men of Wight, Rumford Morris, Jockey Morris Men, and our hosts Ravensbourne Morris Men.
Our music on this tour was expertly performed by Gerry, Helena, and Andy, showing off his new Baldrics.  Continuing our tour we arrived at Catford Constitutional Club, where we danced a couple of dances before retiring to the Clubs garden to enjoy the company of friends for lunch and a couple of beers. After lunch we boarded the bus for Bromley, where we danced at the Railway Tavern then proceeded to walk down to market square, where we stopped for coffee and ice cream, whilst we waited for most people to finish, Steve suggested Spring Grove did an impromptu couple of dances, including Signpost, and Banbury Bill to the enjoyment of the many shoppers who stopped to watch. Onward to Bromley South stopping at the Richmal Crompton pub for a beer and our musicians entertained while waiting for our bus for the return journey. Before returning to Keston Village Hall, we stopped at Caesar's Well in Keston which is a natural spring, and the beginning of the Ravensbourne River.
The feast included the morris whites nightmare of spaghetti bolognese, and some excellent puddings and cheese.  It was good to hear Jon Melville, Ring Bagman, continue the consistent message that all collectors and teachers should be remembered and honoured, and Melanie Barber, Fed Pres, relate the origins of the Fed, and describe her early experiences of festivals and how sides are now equally respected irrespective of gender.
A selection of songs followed and after the tables were cleared an eclectic set of dances were proposed and danced that stretched the assembled in memory, technique and stamina.

Friday again started the day with a full English Breakfast after which the last survivors headed off home.
John & Colin

Tuesday 30th June, Squires' Tour, Richmond Hill
The squires of both sides Spring Grove Morris Men (John) and Kingston Morris (Gerry) took the opportunity afforded by the fine weather to organise an impromptu tour.
We started on a perfect summers evening, dancing on the pedestrian area overlooking the Terrace Gardens, upon beautiful Richmond Hill, to a worthy crowd of strollers. Refreshments were obtained by the excellent Roebuck pub whose "guvnor" chastised us for the lack of notice, as she wanted to put posters and invites up in the pub, a truly Morris friendly venue. With up to 8 musicians attending we had keys and buttons aplenty, surely the largest band we have assembled. Dancing highlights included a exciting  and pacey Maid of the Mill and a very fine Constant Billy (Headington). The more sedate Signposts (Fieldtown) was led very competently by Helena on Melodeon but we all agree this difficult tune needs a little more work. 

We moved on to a new venue The Marlborough Arms in Church St and its amazing garden. Several groups of visitors followed us there, including some of my own Scottish countrymen.  Karen Paxton, the manager was very welcoming and many young families, still out in the late evening dusk, really took to our performance, with several joining in on our Bonny Green Garter. 

A surprise and very welcome guest, Lester Bailey, a virtuoso of Melodeon, joined us for a few tunes and dances. 
It was wonderful evening and sparkling location and we will surely be back.


Saturday 4th July, Datchet Border Morris Day of Dance
The day started with the provision of a very welcome hot drink and bacon roll  in the W.I. Hall after which we all gathered outside on the green to dance. Hosts, Datchet Border Morris, kicked off the dancing and each side performed one dance at this spot.  We then proceeded to Datchet station and two members of Yateley Morris entertained us on the opposite platform with a jig, while we waited for the train to Windsor. On the train we were warmly greeted by the driver/guard with “"Good morning ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and morris dancers!" and he proceeded to tell his passengers what sights to look out for in Windsor.
The six sides- Datchet, Thames Valley, Whitethorn, Taeppas, Yateley and us were split into two groups.  We danced first at the Guildhall, an elegant grade 1 listed building, designed by Sir Thomas Fitch and completed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1689, in the High street, just below the castle, with Thames Valley and Taeppas.  There was a slight pause when the Royalists amongst us rushed to the barrier to watch the guards and their band marching down the street.  Our next dance spots were at the bottom and then the top of Peascods Street.  Here we had several photocalls with tourists and interested audiences and to finish we danced a joint Bonny Green Garters with Thames Valley.

It was a very hot day and we were all, by this time, in need of liquid refreshment, especially Ania who was keen to ‘christen’ her new tankard. The Three Tuns also provided us with a buffet lunch.  After lunch the groups were reformed and we danced in the park with the castle as backdrop, by the bridge and then by the riverside, where Datchet performed a rapper dance to much acclaim.  Squire Gerry treated us all to ice creams while we waited at the station, for which we were most grateful.  Back at the W.I. hall we were greeted with a wonderful array of delicious cakes, provided by the local guide company. They were much appreciated and as a result weary dancers were suddenly revived enough to do one more dance and a final mass Upton sticks.

It was an exhausting, but most enjoyable day and it was great to have Kathy back with us dancing. Several of us had to dance all or nearly all of the dances and Lesley valiantly volunteered to take part in most, even though she was needing a stick to walk!  Dancers were Caroline, Robert, Glenis, Helena, Kathy, Lesley, Phil, Ania and Jane and  thank you to Gerry, Janet, Caroline and Helena for playing.

Saturday 11th July, Ewell St Mary's Morris Men's Day of Dance
We had a great time on Saturday at Ewell Day of Dance.  Ewell St Mary were excellent hosts and their organisation was impressive.  We started off the day by dancing outside ‘The Famous Green Man’ in the High Street which had been closed to traffic.  After the mayor arrived we processed down the High Street to the Lockup, where Ania nobly volunteered to be our wastrel and Phil, our pourer.  She hadn’t a clue what she was letting herself in for and now she has vowed never to do it again!  She was a great sport-well done, Ania.  We danced a quick Headington Constant Billy and then went on to Glyn House field, where Helena beat all other female contenders and became female champion Gurner through the Horse Collar.  After performing a few dances here we headed to ‘The Wheatsheaf’, where the landlord and his staff had laid on a superb buffet lunch.  We then boarded the coach which took us to the Pyrford and Wisley Flower Show.  This was a huge, well attended  fete and we danced in a large arena in the centre. We danced Jenny Lind Lichfield and then following a request (well sort of) by an ESMM member we danced the Manx White Boys sword dance, followed by a mass Lads a’Buncham.  It was a very hot day and we were glad to be back on the air-conditioned coach on our way to the Firebird Brewery at Horsham, where beer and soft drinks were available and some, notably Colin and Helena, even had energy to ‘dance ‘ on the Bouncy castle.  After more dancing we wended our way to the delightful ‘Scarlett Arms’ for a few more beers and dances, and then back to the Green Man for the feast and music.  It was a most enjoyable day spent together with Boxhill Bedlam, Black Swan, Phoenix Clog dancers, Thames Valley MM and our hosts Ewell St Mary MM.  Altogether over the entire weekend we managed to perform 23 dances out of our repertoire (some being repeated on Sunday), dancing all traditions.  Well done everyone.  Also it was great on Sunday that more members came than we were expecting, it meant that we were able to dance a greater variety of dances.  Thanks to the musicians, especially Janet and Sue who played on both days.  Glenis

Sunday 12th July, Long Ditton Fair & School House Lane Orchard Summer Fair
Thanks to everyone who supported the two local events last Sunday - very different in scale but both successful and enjoyable.  At Long Ditton fair the marching band were really impressive as always, and Toni opened the event with aplomb. We performed a good selection of dances in the centre of the arena to earn our fee.  At School House Lane we were refreshed with delicious tea and cakes then danced to warm applause, and involved children and parents in a clapping Shepherd's Hey. After this we were entertained to an elegant impromptu tango display when Steve spotted a friend from past classes, persuaded her to dance and Nick to play. Thanks to everyone, especially musicians and Steve for all the announcing. 


Saturday 18th July, Ducklington Morris Day of Dance, The Cotswolds
We assembled in Stow-on-the-Wold [at 9 o'clock! Ed] for coffee before a 10 am start (using MATES = Morris Adjusted Time Extensions meaning 10.15).  Ducklington Morris led the dancing and were followed by the exciting arrival of a team from Northampton, Wake Robin, but this North Hampton was in Massachusetts, USA. They were a refreshing addition to the day, showing Morris Traditions and some new ideas to spruce up the general experience for the audience.  Teams from across the Cotswolds (Armaleggan, Owlswick Morris, Royal Oak Morris, Masons Apron) joined us as we travelled round famous Morris villages, Oddington, Bledington, Fieldtown (now Leafield) were our targets but we also bobbed past Wheatley, Ducklington and Idbury. Our American cousins were roundly welcomed and took part in a massed "William and Nancy" in its home town of Bledington and a massed "The Valentine" in Fieldtown. Breaking up the Cotswold uniformity, Armaleggan a Border side with a huge and dramatic band brought in their own style and a blackened face or two even popped up in some Cotswold sets (or did I imagine that?). We mingled, chatted and played tunes in one of the more social tours I can remember and Kingston were pleasingly central in breaking the ice.
In terms of our own performances, "Maid of the Mill" and the "White Boys Sword" really attracted attention and seemed to spur others to bring out their own "specials". With a song only accompaniment, the USA contingent performed a dance about factory workers and a magnificent "Family" jig by Mum, Dad and Daughter from Royal Oak Morris picked up the theme of something new. Jigs were a big feature of the day and the Owlswick/Ducklington double was really well done in front of Bledington's Kings Arms. Janet played us in at Fieldtown with Balance the Straw and was rightly rewarded with her Baldrics to much applause. I am confident that once again the Cotswold tour will score well in our end year survey of best gigs.  
Friday 31st July - 2nd August, Devon Tour including Sidmouth Festival
I am pleased to say that we have had lots of requests but that we are determined to carry on dancing.  Thus was the tone set by Kingston Morris on their Sidmouth tour.
Despite difficult journeys to Devon, brought about by unexpected plane crashes and subsequent road closures and the usual M4/M5 holiday traffic jams, everyone signed up for the Friday night meal, managed to get to Topsham on time for 8pm.  A sun filled sky set against the beautiful Exe estuary slowly faded into a full “blue” moon .  Pints of Otter bitter and other local imbibed delights mellowed the weary travellers and set the scene for a relaxed morris weekend. 
On Saturday we met at the rendezvous point in Sidford and progressed in three cars to the delights of Lyme Regis.  The iconic Cobb (think Sense and Sensibility, the French Lieutenants Woman) and marina were bathed in early morning sunshine and the coastline to the east looked stunning especially Golden Cap, the highest cliff at 626ft on the south coast.  We Winstered our way along the Cobb as far as we dare and then returned to our starting point for four warm up dances.  Next stop was beachside in front of a captive audience of coffee drinkers and breakfast eaters.  Again another four dances were performed including  Bonny Green Garters with parents and children joining in.  After a caffeine booster we set off for Beer.
Things got a little blurred on the journey from Lyme to Beer.  There is, apparently, a scenic route via east Lyme and a more challenging route through very narrow lanes via Branscombe.
We were joined in Beer by this strange 81 year old man Graham, a former SPGG dancer, now resident in Sidmouth.  We danced in Castle Gardens overlooking the slipway to the beach and the Anchor pub.  An audience soon built up and we got into top gear and produced a varied and well received programme of dance.  There is a different, almost inspirational dimension to the morris, when you set the dancing against the backcloth of stunning sea views.  (or was it the effect of the first alcohol of the day?)
We successfully travelled in convey to our lunch spot in the charming village of Branscombe which is the longest village in the country. The Masons Arms is a quintessential Devon pub set against the backcloth of rolling green hills and thatched cottages.  We enjoyed lunch and some refreshment and the drizzle that was threatening never materialised.  We danced on a sloping lane just outside the pub so “tops down” took on a new meaning.  David was working his magic at this last possible collecting spot and I believe we have raised just over £50 for our 2015 charity.
Suitably re-energised we met up in Lympstone for the Furry Dance day.  Some of us drove to Exmouth and got the train to Lympstone to enjoy the journey along the Exe Estuary.  Lympstone was heaving and we got there just in time to see the Furry dancers set off on their two hour journey around the village.  We had arranged to meet up with a border side – Bradninch Millers a local Devon side.
The two sides danced non stop for almost two hours and I have to say that Kingston Morris were wonderful.  The standard of dancing, the tempo and positiveness of the music, the clear enjoyment projected, the sense of mischief and the audience engagement was all outstanding.   The massed ranks watching were even cheering at one point.  Everyone had chance to choose dances to be performed and a balance of experienced to inexperienced/rusty dancers ensured the integrity of each set.
The Furry dance returned so we disbanded and met again at the Swan in Lympstone for an evening meal.  Two wine glasses John and Gerry both graciously confirmed the enjoyment of the day and we duly retired to recharge our batteries.
The weather on Sunday was sunny but a little windy at Sidmouth and we set up shop, again with the Bradninch Millers, on the promenade.  Helena joined us with her friend Sarah and I thought we put on another memorable display of morris dancing.  Whilst the interpretation may not have been as expansive as in Lympstone, the standard of dancing was excellent.  Lines were sharp (ok the promenade wasn’t very wide) and movements were timely and positive with few hesitations.  The musicians once again fully supported the dancing.
After the dancing finished the attractions of Sidmouth folk week beckoned with some of the side heading off to various work shops and others just enjoying each others company in pubs, cafes or just walking along the seafront.  For me especially it was a great weekend and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much.  Might I suggest that we don’t wait another twenty years before we go back.  So thank you – John, Gerry, Glenis, Mark, Sue, Lesley, Ania, Colin, Janet, Helena (and Sarah), Robert, Andy, Graham and David.

Woodies Beer Festival, Saturday 22nd August

There was a good turn out on a glorious late August Saturday for Woodies beer festival in New Malden. Despite the intense heat we danced two vigorous sets which included 8 man dances, Vandals of Hammerwich and Jenny Lind (Lichfield), numerous six man dances including a manic Maid of the Mill and a nine man Highland Mary (Bampton). (I know we are a mixed side but using “six persons dances” seems just a bit too PC). A good supply of sandwiches and very generous beer vouchers kept the side refreshed and prevented any flagging. The orchestra – for such is the size of our merry band even without its leader (two melodeons and two Hohner accordions), was augmented by Chris on pipe and drum and Mark on Washboard. Several members stayed on through a warm afternoon and balmy evening to sample the numerous beers on offer. Steve went home to change and returned with his wife for more refreshment and entertainment. My walk home via Lower Marsh Lane was achieved at a leisurely (and hopefully steady) pace – neither inebriate nor intoxicated but certainly well supped.


Mystery event

[nothing happening here, move along]

Yateley 40th Anniversary DofD, Saturday 19th September
When Kingston Morris's attendance at this event was cancelled, three Spring Grove men (Robert, David and Phil) decided to attend as individuals dancing as part of a scratch side with others. Well it was their 40th, so we could not let them down! At last minute we were joined by Sue and Caroline as musicians.
We assembled at the School for coffee and toast before setting off, in glorious sunshine, on the bus tour, alongside Yateley, Thames Valley, Customs & Exiles, the Ring Squire and the Kennet Fool. A second bus took a second Yateley side, Ewell, Ellington, Fireclog and Knickerbocker Glory. Our tour started at the Tilly Shilling in Farnborough with a Banks of the Dee supported by Thames Valley, before moving on the Military Museum in Aldershot – no audience here but plenty of dancing, and Sue and Caroline, now dancing as Kingston Morris, joined us for a Young Collins. Then it was onto the Row Barge pub at Guildford for lunch by the canal, before going to the Dapdune Wharf Narrow Boat Festival, where we were joined by Black Dragon (who were dancing at the festival) for a Constant Billy Adderbury. Our final stop was the Hogs Back Brewery where a barrel of beer was provided and more dances were performed along with the Ring Squire, Kingston Morris, and Thames Valley.
Finally we returned to the Dog & Partridge at Yateley to meet with the other sides for a final stand. We performed Vandals with support again from Thames Valley. The landlord provided a barrel of beer – appropriately from Bampton. Then it was back to the school for a feast of Pies and more ale, and a poem from Robert.


Sue adds:
Caroline and I made a last minute decision to go to Yateley as Spring Grove musicians, knowing we'd be able to play along with TVMM at least, and thinking we could maybe sing one of our harmony songs at the feast (which we did). I didn't expect us to mix in with the dancing, especially as the Squire of the Morris Ring, Adam Garland, would be there. But as it turned out, everyone including Adam was totally relaxed about this from the very beginning, so we did don our KM baldrics and danced a fair bit through the day. It was a lovely atmosphere - if I'd known that in advance we could have decided to go as a part side. In a brief speech at the feast, Adam Garland made it clear he is working hard to make changes in the Morris Ring and especially the way it is perceived by the rest of the Morris world, and to bring the different associations closer together - very good to hear.

Surbiton Festival, Saturday 26th September

Starting the day to Surbo15 in Kingston was a great improvement, though the passing trade in Clarence Street never paused long enough to become an audience. By comparison dancing at the north end of the Ancient Market gathered a happy and easily amused crowd, as did the more intimate space at the Bishop not in Residence. With those three sessions out of the way we walked down the towpath to Claremont Gardens, Surbiton, playing as we walked, and made a grand entrance to the gardens. We were fortunate that our spot was followed by the Brownies, so we had a horde of excitable children and their parents to watch and interact with us. I hold Helena solely responsible for forcing the side, against their will, on to the children’s roundabout, resulting in the most fun had that day, followed narrowly by the succeeding beers in the Coronation Hall. OK, the dancing was fun too.


Annual General Meeting, St John's Church, Monday 28th September

To end the year and start the next.