Log Book for 2017

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


Try-out Evenings, Mondays 3th and 10th October

A couple of new folks came along for a go, never to be seen again.  Hope they enjoyed it.

Black Swan Day of Dance - Carshalton, Saturday 8th October
I kept telling myself I'm covered by a waterproof layer, but more of that later.  We met at the Fox on the High Street and the nine sides all took a turn: North West, step clog, Border and Cotswold before separating off on three separate tours, was that a few spots of rain? No matter.  I enjoyed Wild Hunt and East Surrey's contribution, and we danced on par with the best there.  I should add at this point that the six of us Steve, Robert, Gerry, David, Helena and me dressed variously as SGM and KM, were admirably supported by Alan Mead, and Sue and Chris Benson in Phoenix kit who at various times danced with us, and Alan and Sue also played.  Up to The Hope and lovely beer for the lunchtime spot, we tried out Bromsberrow Heath with an audience member to great effect.  My those are dark clouds.  On to the Railway Tavern where after the dancing started so did a shower.  While the musos sheltered their delicate paper bellows  Black Swan kept dancing and as the spot reached its conclusion/climax so did the shower, and we emerged and danced Balance the Straw.  The walk back to the Fox seemed straightforward, were it not for the rain which quite rapidly progressed from light through heavy to downpour.  Those who departed for the Fox quickly made it OK, the following party took cover in a gents' toilet and the tail enders looked like drowned rats.  Dancing at the Fox was moved to the big marquee at Hope, and after ringing out clothing and quick half, the day's survivors moved to the best stand of the day.  Dancing continued for a couple of hours, with sides, scratch teams and jigs that stopped only with the arrival of the fiery chili; the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly with everyone joining in, like at an ale.  The music session kicked off and was still lively at 9pm when it was time to head off, still damp but insulated by beer, into the now dry night.


Rotary at Bentals, and Horse Rangers Fair - Kingston, Saturday 10th December
Dancing outside at Christmas is cold, but once again the weather was no more that a bit cold and the large numbers of admiring audience made it worthwhile, as did the beer beforehand at the Bishop and the beer afterwards at the Mute Swan.  Some pretentious food later and we headed off to arrive at the Medieval Fair as the rain set in, settling for mulled wine and a few dances in the loft over the stables.

Christmas Dinner - Merrits, Richmond, Tuesday 13th December
We ate Christmas Dinner and Robert congratulated Anna on winning Morris Person of the Year, the rest is a blur.

Christmas Ale - Spring Grove Kingston, Monday 18th December
Unexpectedly the Spring Grove cleared the front room and we, Ewell and Phoenix had a good time, with Swaggering Boney - Longborough making a first successful appearance.  A good evening.

Seething Wells Festival - Surbiton, Sunday 26th February
It always seems a little early in the year for a Morris gig but the eclectic festival to celebrate the origins of the Seething Wells community in Surbiton has become a regular feature of our season.
We had a good turn out of dancers and musicians, all well wrapped up as the weather dictated, ready to entertain and be entertained by the locals. Early arrivers met at the Coronation Hall, then we kitted up and performed a short set in front of the stage in St Andrew's Square.  With a winters practice still fresh in mind, the dancing and playing was to a good standard with the Manx Sword making its usual hit with the audience, and indeed we were rewarded by a request for more. We readily obliged with a very spirited Fieldtown dance, Balance The Straw which was very enthusiastically received.

By this time it was all out to gather in the street ready for the parade around the Seething streets. The parade was led off in style with a large brass band which contained a retired Spring Grove Morris dancer and musician Jim, boldly blowing Trombone. We sensibly lined up towards the rear and experimented throughout the parade with Winster processional and Bampton dance, placing music in front and then behind the dancers. Difficulties in communication seemed to be the major factor in keeping this procession mode of dance presentation together and I concluded that keeping things simple and using just the Winster and periods of just walking and waving to the crowds lining the streets might be the best policy for future parade events.

The parade ended back at the Square and we were further entertained by the band and the staged performance to a narration of the story of The Goat Boy and Seething Wells' origins. This tale gets longer every year and claims for inventing all manner of everyday items grows and grows. The side was stood down and those that felt inclined repaired to a local pub.

Explorer Scouts - Old Malden, Tuesday 7th March
A small but enthusiastic bunch of Venture Scouts enjoyed some vigorous exercise and stick clashing last night. We outnumbered them - eight of us to five of them including their leader, but that made just enough for two sets of six plus musician.  Plan A was to teach Bromsberrow Heath (border dance) followed by Vandals, but Bromsberrow Heath went so well (and numbers not so good for Vandals) that Colin suggested Upton. It was an inspired choice: we had plenty of room for wide sets and wild clashing, the scouts cottoned on well and it was useful revision for the rest of us - especially Kate who missed our recent practice sessions on this dance.  Always good to get young people dancing and aware of morris,  and they were keen for more contact in future.  We went on to the nearest pub, The Plough, for a swift half (no drought real ale but cans of Dead Pony Club - horrible name but great beer).  Thanks to Colin for running the show  brilliantly as ever, to everyone who came (Ian, David, Ania, Kate, Theresa, Helena, Colin and me), and to Julia for bringing Ania and changing our zlotys.

Kempton Great Engines - Sunday 19th March
This event has become a most popular gig in the calendar and was well attended as usual. We were scheduled to dance for three half hour sets, deep in the well of the engine house, between the firing up of this enormous steam engine (the scale of which has to be seen to be believed). A good variety of dances from our repertoire from a number of Cotswold traditions were displayed to a curious audience (which, unfortunately, seemed to be rather smaller as the day wore on). Lunch took up the time between the first two sets but we had a little more time between the next set in which to stroll over to the miniature railway for a ride on the museum's train. Unfortunately, the little steam engine was not available and we were driven round on an electric engine. After an opportunity for a side photograph we were stood down and made our way home.

Thames Valley Morris Men's Ale, Weston Green - Saturday 8th April
I had heard this event was tremendous fun, and it certainly did not disappoint! 

TVMM hosted an evening to remember, with guests, Ewell St Mary, Yateley, the Roosters, a representative for Kennet, and our contingent, dancers Robert, David, Ian and Lesley, and musicians Caroline and Janet.

There was plenty of dancing, with every fourth being a massed one in a variety of traditions, danced in mixed sets.  With support from Judith (Ewell) and Phil and Alan (TVMM), we fielded a side to take our turn with the dances, offering Young Collins, Banks of the Dee, and Abraham Brown.

The Thames Valley men excelled in the kitchen.  We enjoyed superb home cooked food (including curries, sausage casserole and trout) and suitable refreshments; nothing was too much trouble- they even caught the fish! 

Dancing continued after the supper, and ended with songs.

Many thanks go to TVMM for organising and hosting this event.


St Georges Day at the George and Dragon, Thames Ditton - Sunday 23rd April
We started our St George's Day celebrations on a mild, late April afternoon in the garden of our local, The Spring Grove, dancing for an distant audience that included three or four children who switched their attention between our performance and the attraction of climbing frame and slide at the bottom of the garden.

We moved on, following the Hogs Mill river into Kingston, and ate a late lunch at The Ram. Eschewing the mysterious, almost mythical, 515 bus, we decided to walk along the river Thames to Thames Ditton for the evening's engagement at the George and Dragon. There was a brief refreshment break en route when we came upon a pub. During this rest we glimpsed, maybe from the corner of our collective eye, the ghostly white 515 bus flash by.

There was a good turn out at the George and Dragon and we danced two varied sets which included jigs for rosettes by Caroline for dancing (Princes Royal) and by Janet for playing (Nutting Girl). The evening ended with audience participation dances. Steve organised an energetic border dance for the adults, and we concluded with a Bonny Green Garters which included children who had waited eagerly and patiently for their turn.

A big thank you to Helena who played for Caroline's jig and Theresa who danced for Janet to play for her rosette.
Thank you to all dancers and musicians who made the day such a success.

Sun-up on Box Hill and Ham House - Monday 1st May
Kingston and Spring Grove Morris, and their friends processed from the car park to our spot overlooking the viewing point on Box Hill a little earlier this year in deference to dawn rather than sunrise. There was just enough light to see our way, and as Kingston Morris started the dancing with a Lichfield Jenny Lind the sun rose to reveal the misty view down the Mole valley.

Our guest sides, Ewell St Mary, Rampant Rooster and Wild Hunt took their turns to show off their various dances, both Costwold and Border. With a swift change of Baldrics, Spring Grove Morris, led by Steve Nash, only original member of the side, danced a stately Signposts, (Fieldtown) marking the 40th consecutive year that this side has danced in the dawn on Box Hill. (Later on, they also danced an Adderbury, Postman's Knock, jointly with Kingston Morris.) Kingston Morris broke out the swords for the Manx Sword Dance much to the admiration of our guests and the distain of strikingly lovely cat complete with long tail which had appeared among the sparse but attentive audience.  We danced a number of mass dances of Cotswold traditions that most dancers knew enough to muddle through. I had taken note of those dances that these sides joined in with at Thames Valley Morris' ale in April. The rain that had been forecast was noticeably absent and we danced for a couple of hours before a farewell mass dance of Bonny Green Garters.

Ewell St Mary invited us to breakfast with them at The Wheatsheaf and after a heaped plateful of Full English there were songs and music and a little more dancing. Kingston Morris reassembled at Ham House at 11.00 but some fairly determined rain delayed our start here. However the weather soon improved and we danced two sets at the back of the house in front of an appreciative audience. We finally stood down at 2.00 and made our weary way home to relax happy in the knowledge that we had most emphatically danced in the May Day. The season has started and summer is a comin' in.

Scout Fair, Thames Ditton - Sunday 7th May
We took advantage of an invitation on a sunny May afternoon to dance on the fringes of the Thames Ditton Scout's Fair. This turned out to be a rather larger affair than at first imagined. First clue being the difficulty to park any where near the meeting place, The Angel, facing Gigg's Hill Green. The fair spread over the west side of the green leaving just enough space for a local cricket match to take place in the centre of the green. There was a reasonable turn out, of dancers and Caroline plus Sue and Alan to play music. We danced in among the throng visiting the many stalls in two or three places, finishing up in close proximity to the massive tea tent. Having danced for an hour or so we stood down and availed ourselves of much needed refreshment. Tea and cakes of course.

The Weir, Hampton Court with Phoenix Clog - Monday 8th May
This pub, with gardens down to the banks of the river, can be a most pleasant spot when the weather is rather more clement. As it was the gardens were mostly empty, the few customers being snuggled up round the card tables indoors. Both sides kept themselves warm by dancing. Phoenix, with healthy signs of a resurgence in numbers, danced their intricate North West Morris routines and we responded with Cotswold dances in pairs. Over the Hills, Bampton back to back with Young Collins, Bidford, for example. We raised the tempo with our last pair of dances, Upton upon Severn stick dance followed by Vandals of Hammerwich, Lichfield. Phoenix rounded of the evening with a pair of dances and we stood down while we practiced the stage dance for Richmond Fair at Spring Grove's 40th Anniversary Day of Dance next week.

40th Anniversary Day of Dance, Richmond, Twickenham and Kingston - Saturday 13th May
Our guests for the day were local sides that have been associated with Spring Grove Morris for many, if not all, of these 40 years: Ewell St Mary’s, Thames Valley, Greensleeves, Yateley, Kingston and London Pride (Peter Kansen playing a Hurdy Gurdy and Alan Egg).  We were also joined by country members, Graham Bungay (now resident in Sidmouth and dancing with Exeter) and Robin Aitken (moved to Worcester and dancing with Faithful City).

We met in our local church to welcome our guests at 9 o'clock, and after coffee, tea and a pastry we boarded a double decker bus to drive to Richmond. Here we split into two groups, Ewell St Mary’s, Yateley and Spring Grove headed off to the river and danced at the White Cross where the tide had just receded and left slippery mud behind making dancing a careful operation.  The audience was small, and included Terence Smith, one of the Heston Boys and then Heston Morris Men, who came along to join our celebration. Meanwhile Kingston, Greensleeves, and Thames Valley made their way to the corner of Richmond Green to dance at the Prince’s Head which unfortunately was closed making this a dry spot. At this first spot it was my pleasure as Squire of Kingston, to present baldrics to Frances Stearman who had, over the first weeks of the season, demonstrated competence in a sufficient number of dances.  Kingston took their last chance to practise The Lass of Richmond Hill, which was to be their show dance on the stage later in the day.  After a couple of dances from each side and a mass Lichfield Vandals of Hammerwich at the Prince’s Head and a mass Adderbury Lads A Bunchem at the White Cross, the two groups swapped venues for another set.

Just after mid-day Thames Valley left us to go to another engagement that they needed to honour while all the other sides made their way to the stage on the green where, after the declaration and crowning of the Queen of Richmond Fair by the Mayor, they entertained a good sized crowd with some excellent dancing.  Colin Messer joined Ewell St Mary’s in a dance called Black, White, Yellow and Green and Ewell also danced an unusual five man Little Polly. Spring Grove presented an elegant Fieldtown Signposts and Kingston gave a fine rendition of Bidford The Lass Of Richmond Hill.  Morris the Pig and Yateley’s horse wondered among the crowd entertaining (scaring) the children. There was time after this to scavenge a lunch from vendors at the fair before boarding our bus on busy George Street.  Luckily we did not leave anyone behind despite the odd straggler.

The tour now headed for Twickenham where Spring Grove, Greensleeves, and Ewell St Mary’s were dropped off within walking distance of The Swan while Kingston, and Yateley were driven on closer to the Barmy Arms a short distance further along the river. At the Swan, Alan Mead, who was a member of Spring Grove when the side danced into the Morris Ring, donned ancient Spring Grove baldrics to dance with the anniversary side. At the Barmy Arms one of Yateley danced a jig and Kingston's Theresa Ellmers danced a Nutting Girl solo jig. After a few dances those at the Swan walked along the river to join the others at the Barmy Arms, and Thames Valley re-join the group.  All together for the first time, more dancing followed including a number of mass dances. Thames Valley demonstrated their stick throwing prowess in a dance they call Blue Streak (think guided missiles).

Just before 4 o'clock everyone got back on the bus to be driven to Kingston and the riverside area at the Ram; there was some singing on the bus.  Here another good sized crowd were entertained by all sides including mass dances. Yateley Morris took up two sticks each for an eight-man dance called Millie’s Bequest.

We had one last dancing spot to complete the schedule.  We were advertised as the finale at the Spring Grove, Bloomfield Road street party. Yateley men had to leave at this point to attend a prearranged surprise birthday party for one of their musicians. Ewell St Mary’s were, by this time, down to four dancers but this didn’t stop them from filling the street with an energetic dance called The Serpent. Spring Grove were joined by Kingston to show off the Manx Sword Dance, and were joined by Labour candidate Laurie South, suited and sporting distinctive red rosette but no matching baldrics. And there were mass dances including Adderbury dance, Lads A Bunchem and a final Bonny Green Garters.

It was just a short walk from Bloomfield Road to the church hall in Grove Lane where there was a feast prepared. Pasta dishes were the order of the day followed by deserts, and then cheese and crackers all washed down with good local beer from the nearby Park Brewery. There was a splendid anniversary cake, baked by Steve Nash and decorated appropriately by his wife Pat with facsimile Morris dancers in Spring Grove kit at each corner. Spring Groves’ oldest and youngest dancers, Graham and Id, were given the honour of cutting this cake, an obvious photograph opportunity and a moment to toast the anniversary side. Each side sang for their supper and Sue Benson had written an anniversary song for Spring Grove Morris Men. This was followed by a saucy duel of a song between the men of Spring Grove and the women of Kingston, the subject of which eluded an innocent soul such as I.  The final offering was a Les Barker poem "Is Poetry Better than Sex" from Colin Messer, which no-one could follow.  The evening was rounded out with a music session by all sides’ musicians who played until a tired and satisfied gathering bade farewell and made their way home.

Many thanks to all dancers and musicians who took a part in this anniversary event. Special thanks to Steve Nash, founding Spring Grove Morris Man, ably assisted by Phil Mundy, who organised this most successful day.


Swan & White Hart, Hampton Wick - Monday 22nd May
We perched on a small promontory outside The Swan at the corner of Upper and Lower Teddington Road and watched by two audience we danced a good first set before moving on to The White Hart to another constrained space in front of the pub.  A larger audience here watched us dance after some stayed for a final pint while the rest left to hunt down their cars, some with greater success than others, not that I would mention any names, Frances.

The Boaters, North Kingston - Thursday 1st June
[awaiting report]

The Ram, Kingston Riverside - Monday 5th June
Postponed due to inclement weather

The Ram, Kingston Riverside - Monday 12th June (take 1)
[A split event with one set entertaining the folks at the Bishop and the second set working with the film club to make a pseudo-flash mob film.  Interesting and quite enjoyable, and it seemed to entertain the folks chilling at the Ram.  Ed.]

(take 1)
I managed to arrange an evening in Kingston with members of Sutton Film Makers to make a faux flash mob movie of the Bampton Morris dance that we call "over the hill". [aka Thames Valley MM's The Gaye Dance] 

I had had to abandon an attempt to achieve this the previous week due to poor weather but this Monday was a perfect summer evening. I had surveyed the location, an open area by the river next to the Ram, and worked out camera positions and angles to cover the dance and punter’s reactions. The film crew arrived and set up two camera positions and a sound position with Zoom recorder and boom microphone.

Six dancers and two musicians were instructed to turn up in casual dress, bringing their Morris kit in bags. The process started with an audio only take to get a good track of the music with the dancers bells joining in at the appropriate moment. The dance was then filmed in a number of segments. At each stage an item of Morris kit was added, first bells, then white trousers, then shirts and baldrics and finally our characteristic straw hats. When this footage is edited it should appear that a flash mob Morris occurred in this arena during which (as if by magic) the dancers and musicians turn into a fully kitted out Morris side.

Quite sensibly, those musicians and dancers not involved with the filming moved off along the river Thames towards Kingston Bridge to dance and entertain the public enjoying a lovely summer evening by the water. (see separate log report) I was a little disappointed that they had strayed too far to be called back to be filmed between the takes when much costume changing occurred. It was a missed opportunity to get a couple of our dances onto quality digital film. By the time that they returned to join in a last session of dancing, the light had gone and the film crew were in the pub.

Combining the roles of director, AD, DOP, continuity and sound designer was extremely demanding and quite enough stress to last me for a week or two. The rushes look quite good however and I am looking forward to having enough time to edit this material.

(take 2)
While Robert was being film director in mufti for the evening videoing a scripted morris flash mob dance sequence with half the side, those not destined to be film stars decided to dance elsewhere on this sunny evening.

We moved further downstream, pausing by Charter Quays for a dance, and continued on to the Bishop out of Residence. We danced to a changing audience who seemed fascinated by our antics, and stopped to take photographs and ask questions.  After several dances we gave ourselves a short break before continuing with a second stand.  We re-joined the film stars and film makers who were too tired to dance anymore, so retired to The Ram.


Twickenham Fair - Saturday 17th June
It was rather too hot to dance throughout the day but we paced ourselves with regular refreshment breaks. We started at 11.00 at the Farmer's Market and moved onto the Fox by 12.00. Pimms was served at the lunch time venue in the church gardens. In the afternoon we danced at the Swan and the Barmy Arms on the river.

Evening of Dance - Thursday 22nd June
Midsummer evening was upon us and we were back in Twickenham again. Kingston Morris started at The Fox with sides from Rickmansworth, (Phoenix Morris) and North Harrow, (Merrydowners Morris). Both these sides are mixed men and women sides dancing a range of Cotswold traditions including some of their own devising.  We met Merrydowners at Swanage folk festival last summer.
Meanwhile, Ewell St Mary's Morris, Phoenix Clog and The Wild Hunt began their evening of dance at The White Swan.  Both groups joined forces at The Barmy Arms for more individual side dances and a number of massed dances. It was a perfect summer evening to dance and take ale beside the river Thames.  The dancing ended with a massed Bonny Green Garters and all involved enjoyed a buffet of good food arranged by our dutiful bag person, Jane, and a bit of a music and song session.
We welcome back Gerry after his leisure cruising, bolstering the Kingston Morris band, and thank all of our guests for coming out to celebrate the summer solstice with us.

The Sultan, Wimbledon - Sunday 24th June
The Sultan Pub, South Wimbledon was buzzing with festival anticipation:
Glastonbury live was being screened in the garden, bunting was up, and musicians were sound checking. Kingston Morris, had a slightly larger side than anticipated, which meant that we were able to perform eight person Lichfield dances – Jenny Lind and Vandals. Two stands were danced in the street, to an appreciative crowd, who happy contributed to the potty, and enjoyed the show. Bampton dances included Over the Hills and Highland Mary. The display included Adderbury Constant Billy and several Bidford and Fieldtown dances, all executed well. Maid of the Mill, Brackley probably needs a bit more practice! The final dance was the Upton Stick dance, performed with gusto. Many thanks to Janet and Sue for the music; Janet really stepping up to the mark, and holding much of it alone as Sue also danced. A fabulous event and much enjoyed. The Hopback and guest beers were delicious as was the Venezuelan street food. The weather was perfect for dancing energetically in, as well as for sitting comfortably in the garden for several pints afterwards. A fine time was had by all.
Kate Wood

Royal Star and Garter Summer Fair - Saturday 1st July
The fair was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Kingston, Mike Head, and the accomplished band of Kingston Royal British Legion. We then danced our first set on the fore court of the home, following a warm welcome by Radio Jackie.  We had enough dancers to include a couple of Lichfield dances in this set and also the Nutting Girl Jig danced beautifully by Theresa and accompanied by Sue on the melodeon. A talented Barbershop Quartet, Hamptonics, took over from us at the front of the home and later Kingston Youth Jazz group and the Star and Garter singers also entertained the residents and friends. In between sets we explored various stalls, which were dotted about the grounds and relaxed drinking Pimms in the sun. Our second set should have been longer than the first, but it was cut short by Radio Jackie’s needing to announce the results of the raffle draw, ably assisted by Ania, who selected the winning tickets from the ‘hat’. We had good audiences for both sets and were well received. It was good to support a local care home on such a pleasant afternoon.
Glenis Ward

Richmond Hill - Monday 3rd July
A good number of dancers and musicians met on the Richmond Hill footway opposite the Roebuck, with the lush and magnificent views over the Thames. It was a beautiful sunny evening; two eight person Lichfield dances were performed, and many Adderbury, and Bampton dances for six [and of course our own Bidford -The Lass of Richmond Hill. Ed.] Sticks and hankies were flourished, flicked and clashed with zeal. The gradient and gravelly surface, made dancing somewhat tricky, and therefore several dances were not selected for health and safety reasons. The crowd enjoyed the display and the beer at the Roebuck was excellent. The side said goodbye to Ian when they headed off to the Marlborough for a second set. Tables and chairs were pushed back, and although there was virtually no audience, many dances were practiced for Ely – thanks to Sue for being on the case helping to ensure that Ely dancers felt prepared. A stick only hit a hanging light fitting once, but staff didn’t seem to notice it swinging! Music continued after dancing finished. This was a successful and enjoyable evening.
Kate Wood

Ely Folk Festival - Friday 7th to Sunday 9th July
I had been looking forward to a weekend of concerts, workshops and ceilidh (with a little bit of Morris dancing) at the Ely Folk Festival and so packed up my tent and drove up to Cambridgeshire on Friday afternoon in anticipation of a good time.  The weather was very warm and stayed bright throughout the weekend so my wellies (an essential item to pack for summer’s festival season) stayed firmly in the boot of the car.  I joined several members of the side in the corner of a field adjacent to the festival arena. We all enjoyed a strong set by TradArr on the main stage that evening.  The most hardy of the side danced late into the night at the Ceilidh.  On Saturday we shared time at the festival (an occasional workshop or two) with a tour of Ely and a number of us enjoyed a meal at a local pub by the river.  Highlight of the gigs on site later in the evening were the Spooky Men’s Chorale, an Australian sixteen man choir who delighted the audience with much skill and fine wit.

Kingston Morris were booked to dance in front of Ely cathedral on Sunday morning together with Gog Magog Molly and The Outside Capering Crew. Gog Magog danced a very vigorous almost mechanical Molly while OCC performed intricate three man dances with crossed long clay pipes on the stone slabs.  In total contrast we performed a representative programme from our Cotswold repertoire which showcased Bidford (Recruiting Sergeant), Adderbury (Constant Billy), Bampton (over the hill), Lichfield (Jenny Lynd), Fieldtown (banks of the Dee) and the Manx Sword Dance.
There was just enough time to forage for lunch before catching the bus back to the festival site for a dancing spot in the arena. Here we were joined by Ely and Littleport Riot (a ladies side who danced a mixture of Border and Cotswold) and an American side, Minnesota Trad Morris, enjoying a European tour. Also allocated to this arena spot were Milkmaid Molly, an organisation supporting and enabling vulnerable and disadvantaged people access to the folk arts.  They filled the stage with the Circassian Circle dance in which several of our side (and others) joined in.  I persuaded both Ely and Littleport and Minnesota Trad Morris to join us in our final dance, a massed vandals of Hammerwich.

Highlights of the Sunday evening’s entertainment included Topette (sounding very Blowsabella like), O’Hooley and Tidow, and Seth Lakeman. On Monday morning I rose early, struck camp, and headed off north a few miles to the Ouse Washes for a bit of bird watching. But that is another story not entirely relevant to a Morris report.

Thanks to the merry campers who mixed Morris with the folk festival for the whole weekend and those essential other dancers and musicians who travelled down to soak up the atmosphere of Ely on Saturday and danced out on the Sunday.  Thanks also to Frances and Jane and who joined us on Sunday for our official dancing spots and who arranged this event.

The Prince of Wales, Surbiton - Thursday 13th July
We were treated to a warm summer evening, in sharp contrast to the downfall that greeted us when we danced here last year.   There is just enough room in front of the tables in the garden of this busy pub for a side to dance. We entertained an audience mostly made up of a large group of lady teachers from the local primary school celebrating the end of term no doubt. The men in the side could not resist inviting one of the ladies into the field town dance Valentines. After a second set of dances a good number of the audience joined us for a Bonny Green Garters farewell dance.

The Dave Watmore memorial tour, The Abinger Hatch, Dorking - Monday 18th July
On a wonderfully barmy evening in the peace and tranquility of the Surrey Hills, we danced in honour of one of Spring Grove’s former members, Dave Watmore, who sadly died in 2016.  We gathered at the Abinger Hatch in Abinger Common, where Dave and his wife Bin lived, to celebrate his years with the Morris.  Although marking a sad occasion, the evening was very uplifting and happy for all the right reasons.  A large crowd of friends and relatives of Bin and Dave had come in support and Kingston Morris were sixteen strong including two old boys, Jim Illingworth and Paul Leyland, and Steven Archer, the Morris Ring Treasurer from Ravensbourne Morris, who was a close friend of Dave’s.

The choice of dances was informal and the side did two sets.  We danced on uneven grass without mishap and varied our programme to include dances from Adderbury, Bampton, Bidford, Brackley, Fieldtown, and Lichfield. We did a 12 person Jockey to the Fair from Brackley as we remembered this as Dave’s favourite dance.  A certain unnamed caller of the dance forgot the call the capers in the last chorus so instead introduced for the first time ever Brackley rounds which went surprisingly well before ending up with Capers.

Jim not only danced (rather too vigorously at times with his stick) but also joined the musicians whilst Paul energetically remembered all the dances he was volunteered for.

Bin was happy for us to collect for our charity (All about Ali) and the very generous audience donated £124.51.

I’m sure we all went away better people as the evening represented what makes morris Morris so compelling - camaraderie, friendship and support.  So many people joined in our last main dance that the line stretched down through the picnic tables and beyond.  This all against the glorious sunset glimpsed through the tree line.

We owe a big thanks to Bin and the girls who very generously provided what seemed like limitless beer in a huge jug to keep us going.  We will revisit!

The Bell, Walton-on-the-Hill - Monday 24th July
Kingston Morris danced out on Monday at the Bell (AKA The Rat), Walton on the Hill as guests of Rampant Rooster. The little lane up to the pub has, over the years, become more and more potholed and at least one of the side took some car damage on the way in. Once there and safely parked behind the pub we joined the Roosters in some dancing and music playing. Rampant Rooster dance a mixture of Border and Cotswold Morris and started off with a lively Beaux of London City (shooting) while Kingston chose dances from all the Cotswold traditions that are part of our repertoire. We did manage a massed Adderbury dance, Postman's Knock with some small variations between the sides. The Bell was serving its own ale, Rat's Tail, which was rather fine, though a bit expensive. A thank you to Rampant for the invite and to all Kingston dancers and musicians who turned out on a grey but thankfully rain free evening.

Rose Theatre Memory Café - Friday 18th August
There was a "just enough" turn out for this event held at the rather smart Kingston Quaker Centre on the east side of the Fairfield.  At this rather informal affair we danced a couple of sets of our Cotswold dances including a Lichfield Vandals with two ghost dancers which seem to work quite well. It was as well that this was an indoor event as a thunderstorm raged outside and we watched torrential rain through enormous windows at the back of the hall.  Members of the Memory Café and their organisers received our endeavours most enthusiastically and quite a few joined in for a shortened version of the Shepherd's Hey clapping dance taught by Glenis. Thanks to Gerry and Mark for the music and to all who came out on a Friday afternoon to dance.

Woodies Beer Festival, New Malden - Sunday 20th August
On Sunday, I made the long walk to Woodies via the Berrylands water treatment works in time for an afternoon of Morris dancing with Kingston Morris. The organisers have rearranged the site of this festival by rigging the beer tent directly next to the pub. This meant that we would be dancing on hard core in the beer garden rather than on grass. We danced two energetic sets with a subsidised beer/ meal break in between with Steve engaging the public in lively banter throughout. We concluded the last set with a Bonny Green Garters which enticed a good number of the public to join us in the dance. There was time for Helena and Colin to Derby their day on pony and zebra before we drank up and, leaving the next band blasting away on stage, wended our way home.

The Crown, Twickenham with TVMM - Tuesday 22nd August
8 Spring Grovers joined 7 Thames Valley Morris Men in the garden for the Crown with both expressing an interest in Alan who successfully wore both kits (Ed. is that 8.5 SGM: 6.5 TVM?).  We lost Robert to a poorly foot at the last minute and fortunately gained Ian who is always good fun.  I commend TVMM in their choice of pub from the perspective of beer, a good selection and a good cellar, though their choice of weather was more questionable.  The evening’s dancing started and ended with a shower, between which we danced alternating between SGM and TVM in quite humid conditions.  Phil was still recovering so we tried to use him sparingly.  Bernard was able to make an appearance when we were looking for an extra man, and certainly Bernard is a man with something extra.  As to the dancing, there was a good selection of old and new, and we attempted an ill-fated 12-man Vandals whose hey proved the master of some, but overall we had an entertaining evening.

South Bank Tour, Westminster with GMM - Saturday 16th September
Kingston Morris joined Greensleeves Morris Men and Phoenix Clog on a guerrilla tour of the South Bank last weekend. We were inevitably moved on occasionally but all had a very pleasant days dancing and entertained the crowds on an overcast but mercifully dry day. Dancing began outside the Royal Festival Hall and progressed along the river pausing to dance at the National Theater and ITV's studio 8 and the Founders Arms. Everyone then crossed the Millennium Bridge on the way to a lunchtime spot Blackfriars. After a very generous sandwich lunch we moved to the area in front of St Paul's Cathedral  and were well received by an enthusiastic crowd. Back across the bridge we continued East along the river to Bankside were there is a replica of Drake's Golden Hinde. This was our last dancing spot though the day was rounded out with a pint or two in the Old Kings Head, Borough Market. Our thanks to Greensleeves Morris Men for the invite to dance with them on this tour, and my thanks to all dancers and musicians who turned out for Kingston Morris.

Annual General Meeting at St John's Church, Spring Grove - Monday 25th September
To end the old Morris year and start the new.  Well that's done, on with the 41st year! Hazzah!