Banbury Hobby Horse Festival, 12 October, 19

Laurence Sterne’s character Tristram Shandy describes riding one’s hobby-horse as an individual actively expressing their personal preoccupation or even perhaps their obsession, in whatever way they think fit (the modern general word ‘hobby’ derives from that 18th century usage). It is fair to say that last Saturday saw members of AVMM riding their hobby-horses, both in the 18th century sense and physically, with both Charlie and Percy going full-tilt for most of the day. It was hard to suppress their boisterousness; thankfully there was only one slightly embarrassing moment when Charlie nose-dived for a munch of the hedge outside the Whately Hall Hotel.

AVMM in Festive mood and horses at the ready! Photo by Hannah

As with previous years, our Morris side led the procession of hobby-horses of all hues, sizes and styles through the town and we then spent an enjoyable time dancing our traditional dances in front of the shopping public at various stations around Banbury town centre. With seven dancers, when we weren’t processing through the old streets, we managed to fit in around twenty dances. We were warmly received in the White Horse for lunch where we were offered a generous array of sandwiches followed by us regaling all and sundry with a vibrant rendition of ‘Come Landlord fill the flowing bowl’, which went down very well with the White Horse customers, many of whom were in town for the annual Banbury folk festival. We were supported all day by several friends and family, some with smaller horses of their own, and it was lovely to see Gail there too.

AVMM surrounded by horses! Photo by Hannah

Thankfully the Met Office got it wrong and the rain clouds stayed slightly further south, so hard luck Oxford and Buckingham but lucky us! It was quite tiring constantly promenading and dancing, especially for the horses, and Charlie and Percy were glad at the end of the day to be put back in the stable with a blanket each and a bowl of oats.

Our grateful thanks to Hannah for her lovely photos and to the BHH Festival organisers. We all look forward to the next outing!

David Snell