Christmas Tree Festival & Banbury Dance Out 3-4 December 21

Season’s greetings everyone! Adderbury Village Morris Men have just completed a double-bill of weekend dancing in the local area and I’m here to give you the details!

On Friday 3rd December, we partook in an hour of dancing, set against the backdrop of the beautifully decorated trees at the Adderbury Christmas Tree Festival in St. Mary’s Church. Myself, John, David, Chris, Troy and his son Owen along with musical accompaniment by Donald provided entertainment for the viewers and perusers of the delightful trees decorated by various organisations associated with the village of Adderbury. This included a tree from our side decorated by John and David. As you can see John was overseeing some of the finishing touches, to get it ready for the public.

Former Squire John Ekers pictured with the Adderbury Village Morris Men Christmas tree decorated by David and John

The reception was wonderful, and the acoustics of the Church always add to the performance – and certainly let people know we were there! After our signature dances of Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding, we performed the Bluebells of Scotland as the church is known for playing the tune on a Wednesday evening. We partook in another edition of Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket, with a call and response opening, which echoed throughout the church. Despite how tight it was in the pews, we also managed to perform Beaux of London City, Lads a’Buncham and Washing Day, as well as both a 6 and an 8 man Shepherd’s Hey Jig – since we managed it so well, we did it twice to allow for audience participation! Finishing with Brighton Camp, we concluded without knowing quite how much we would miss the luxury of indoor dancing…

There was extra incentive to keep moving in Banbury on the 4th December, given it was cold with strong winds – we needed to keep moving just to stay warm. Starting our tour of the town, we danced by Banbury Cross opposite the Fine Lady statue, where strong winds whipped round us as we danced Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding. For the first time in my Morris Dancing career, I saw hats and hankies blown from our dancers – kindly picked up by the audience before they were lost to the traffic!

Sunshine and icy winds in Banbury town centre meant that AVMM had to dance as much as possible to stay warm!

After performing Constant Billy, we moved onto the bottom of the High Street. Once again finding another wind tunnel to be buffeted in, we performed Postman’s Knock, Black Joke (which for once I actually asked to do in a vain attempt to warm-up) and finally Roast Beef. We moved onto the market place, where we were still unable to find shelter from the icy wind, but the crowds provided enough of a reason for us to stay. Often our audience didn’t watch for long, but we were grateful to anyone who stopped and took the time to enjoy the entertainment – even if it was so gusty that our sign got blown over! We performed, Washing Day, Shepherd’s Hey, Happy Man and two pairs of Jockey to the Fair (luckily our placed hats were not lost to the weather conditions), before moving onto our final spot of the day.

Outside the Reindeer, we found some reprieve from the howling gales. We’d finally found an area sheltered from the wind. We finished strong with Beaux of London City (Shooting) and the generosity of the people of Banbury was evident as they were quick to donate in aid of our veterinary bills, Which is strange, given our attempt to fire upon our own horses at the end of Shooting. Finally, we rounded off the performance with Stourton Wake, Brighton Camp, and then lastly a Princess Royal before retiring to the Reindeer for a well-earned drink.

All that’s left to say is thank you to everyone who performed over the weekend – Donald, David, John, Raf, Troy, Owen, Matt and Chris – providing us with the numbers for both events. If you’re reading this and saw us at either of our events – thank you – and if you were one of the kind folk in Banbury who gave us a small donation I thank you again for your generosity – every little helps (as a certain supermarket likes to advertise). Additionally, should you not hear from our troop before then, happy holidays and have a great New Year. Stay safe, and we’ll see you next time.

Squire Ryan Jamniuk

P. S. No horses (nor the children who ride the horses) were harmed in the performances descibed above.