All posts by Richard Teare

Wroxton Fete, 6 August 22

A glorious Saturday was the perfect setting for our first dance out in almost 6 weeks. Wroxton Fete had invited us to entertain it’s visitors over the course of lunchtime in ideal weather conditions. We started with Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding, in which it was clear to see that the break in dancing events had certainly not diminished our quality as everyone danced brilliantly. Following on from that we shot some birds out of the sky with the Beaux of London City followed by Hail to the Chief and Lads a’Buncham to finish our first set.

After wandering around the fete to take in the sunshine (or running to find water and shade), we returned for a second set. We started with the Bluebells of Scotland and went on to perform Stourton Wake, Washing Day and Shepherds Hey both as a set and with the audience. We concluded with Postman’s Knock and Brighton Camp whilst singing and sticking for the whole fete to hear!

It was so much fun and great to see everyone dancing, singing and enjoying the good weather. Thanks to everyone who came, with a special well done to our youngest dancer Luke who did brilliantly throughout the afternoon. In a few years he’ll be tall enough to not have to stretch to during the overhead portion of Lads a’Buncham!! Thank you to the organisers for inviting us, to Hannah for the lovely photos and Donald for playing loudly and clearly over the noise of the fete and keeping us in time during Brighton Camp!

Squire Ryan

In memory of John, 28 July 2022

We don’t often pay tribute to our spectators and our supporters on this website so let me change that. They are the people that matter the most. It is with sadness that we announce the death of one of our long-time supporters, John Bush, from Stratford upon Avon. 

John was usually seated outside the Bell on the Day of Dance taking in the ambience of the day, the beer and enjoying the dancing of all the Adderbury sides. He loved watching our drinking jig and all the antics that accompany it.

John was also an obsessive follower of Fairport Convention and Richard Thompson – a man of great taste then and many years ago, he was a member of Shakespeare Morris. 

I was honoured to be asked to sing the Adderbury Village Morris version of The Happy Man at John’s cremation. The cremation was conducted by our good friend,  Rev Stephen Fletcher (once of Adderbury) and also a good friend to John.

Rest in Peace John.

Donations to Shakespeare Hospice.

Donald McCombie 

Goodbye Chris and Sandra! 24 June 22

After eight years of running a hub of Morris Dancing in the village of Adderbury, the resident landlord and landlady Chris and Sandra are sadly retiring from The Bell Inn. We thought it was only fair to make a song and dance of it, so decided to gather on Friday evening to wish them all the best. In typical Morris fashion, after a week of fair weather it was a cloudy and blustery evening outside the Bell. Undeterred, our team and loyal supporters had come out to help wish farewell to Chris and Sandra. We started with the usual Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding (Flasher), followed by the Beaux of London City (Shooting), in which our youngest member Luke performed brilliantly – even better than I did at some points!

From one of our newest members to one of the longest serving – it’s at this point that I need to make special mention of Former Squire David Reed, known affectionately as ‘Dorset Dave’ and his wife Chris who had made the effort to join us. After taking the decision to move to Wales to be closer to family, this may be one of the final times we get to see them. As a token of our appreciation for everything that Dave has done for the team over the years, we presented a photobook which included memories of his time with us. There’ll be a much more in-depth thank you at a later stage, but this gift hopefully goes some way to showing how much we’ve appreciated the knowledge and wisdom passed down over the years.

Former Squire Dave Reed (Dorset Dave) front left, dancing with Ryan and next to Luke, our youngest dancer. Photo courtesy of Hannah.

After Stourton Wake, I nipped into the pub for some refreshments and I could hear the Postman’s Knock being called outside by Troy. Having fetched a refreshing lemonade, it was three pairs for Jockey to the Fair and me praying the bubbly lemonade would stay down! Of course, being a professional, all was well and John, Dylan, Troy, Owen, David and I put on a good performance despite the sloped nature of the road. At this point we invited Chris to take a quick break outside the pub to listen to our serenade of ‘Come Landlord fill the Flowing Bowl’. A song which we only pull out for very special occasions! We did offer to sing inside the pub, but for some reason Chris didn’t want a load of rowdy Morris Men with large sticks in his establishment…

Landlord Chris Shallis demonstrates his sticking skills dancing with former Squire John. Photo courtesy of Hannah.

We danced Constant Billy as per the request of our Bagman David (who had squeezed in a dance-out and a theatre trip in one evening), and it was at this point we decided to bring in the children watching and do our obligatory Shepherd’s Hey Jig. I could definitely see a lot of prospective future members for the side which is always encouraging. We began winding down with the Bluebells of Scotland, Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket, Lads a Buncham and Hail to the Chief, and then dragged Chris away from his bar once again to dance Brighton Camp with the signed stick which we presented to him. I would say that Morris men were impacting his usual business focus, but I’m sure we made up for any distractions with our own drink orders. The coats were coming on, the clouds had rolled in and at that point it was time to draw things to a close.

Thank you to everyone who came, Donald for the music and Hannah and Dorset Dave for the photos. Really though, this thank you section needs to be for Chris and Sandra who have done so much for all Morris sides in the past eight years of running the Bell. Thank you for the pints of Hooky, lemonade, Coke and water, a place to relax post practice and the setting for our AGMs. You’ve been contributing to the side long before I even knew it existed and you truly will be missed by the team in a way that words cannot fully express. We wish you both all the best for the future, and hope to still see you around and about in the village soon. Perhaps with some free time on your hands Chris, you may consider taking up a hobby. I hear dancing is good for your physical and mental health…

Squire Ryan

Fringford Beer Festival, 18 June 2022

The Fringford Beer Festival has become a mainstay of our dancing calendar and after a 2-year COVID-imposed hiatus, the side was once again looking forward to entertaining the Fringford crowds. (The fact that we are paid in beer tokens has nothing to do with it. We swear!).  After a week of sweltering temperatures, the weather had sadly turned as eight dancers and our musician Donald assembled in drizzly conditions.  With Squire Ryan being unavailable, it was down to past Squire John and Side Treasurer Troy to call the dances. With a precipitous break in the weather and a curious crowd coalescing, we started with our traditional opening dances of ‘Sweet Jenny Jones’ and ‘Haste to the Wedding’.  These were quickly followed by ‘Constant Billy’.  After a quick break to clear some confused worms from the grass dancing surface, no doubt attracted by the rhythmical percussiveness of the dancing, we proceeded to dance ‘Hail to the Chief’ and ‘Washing Day’.  The Fringford audience were clearly enjoying the display of traditional Cotswold Morris and so we continued with a performance of ‘Shepherds Hey’, following which we invited members of the audience to join us in an abridged version of the dance.  This opportunity to share our tradition has become a regular and much enjoyed feature in our dance sets.  Our final dance of this set featured the first full dance by our youngest and newest dancer Luke (aged 5), dancing a perfect ‘Beaux of London City’ (Shooting) to the delight of the crowd and his fellow dancers.  

Audience participation time with lots of youngsters – including a one-year old and mother! Photo by Hannah.

After a short interval, during which we were able to sample some of the many fine ciders, ales and porters available at the festival, we were back in action.  Our second set commenced with something of a historic moment for the side: Namely, ‘Lads a Bunchum’ being performed entirely by family members of ex-Squire John.  Not since William Walton’s family danced in Adderbury in the late 19th Century has a side been comprised entirely of members of the same family.  Additionally, and in keeping with the side’s goal of sustaining the tradition through teaching the next generation of dancers, three of the side were under the age of 12!  This historic moment was followed by performances of ‘Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket’ and ‘Postman’s Knock’ featuring young Luke’s 3rd dance for the day.  A somewhat chaotic ‘Princess Royal’ for 8 dancers followed with dancers being distracted by dropped hankies, some errant calling and the reappearance of the worms who were possibly massing for a counter-attack.  However, we quickly recovered to host another superb audience participation in ‘Shepherd’s Hey’.  With the weather starting to turn and the rain setting in, we performed ‘Bluebells of Scotland’ and ‘Stourton Wake’ before finishing with our traditional final dance of ‘Brighton Camp’.

Brighton Camp to end – then it’s back to the beer tent (shown in the background). Photo by Hannah.

We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share our Morris tradition with all, and the many positive comments – and even membership enquiries – received afterwards were testament to the Fringford audience’s enjoyment of our dancing.  Many thanks go to the organisers of the festival for inviting us back, the dancers who turned out, Hannah for the photographs and as always, to Donald for the music.

Treasurer Troy

Chris & Charlotte Gasson’s Wedding Party, Saturday 11 June 22

A glorious Saturday in June was the ideal backdrop for us dancing at Chris and Charlotte Gasson’s Wedding Party at their scenic Coldharbour Farm in West Oxfordshire, to provide some entertainment for their guests. Once we decided on which way to dance in Chris’ yard, we started with Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to the Wedding. Amongst other dances we notably had some audience participation as part of a Shepherd’s Hey Jig, with many of the younger party guests having a go at our tradition (though sadly some lived a little too far away to perhaps be future members). Former Squire John adds: It was a challenge trying to identify some of the bearded middle aged guests who claimed to be former pupils of mine. I assumed they were telling the truth as they recalled details of Biology practicals I did with them that wouldn’t be allowed today. At least one of these expressed serious interest in joining AVMM. Later, some members of the side had to leave the celebration to spend the latter part of the evening playing at a ceilidh in Preston-on-Stour, where we also taught the audience the Shepherds’ Hey Jig and  demonstrated Princess Royal. We never stop sharing the joy!

Congratulations Charlotte and Chris! Photo by Hannah

After rounding things out with an eight man Brighton Camp, we took a quick photo opportunity in front of Chris & Charlotte’s Hay pyramid. Donald, who had taken the time out of his busy weekend to play for us, sadly had to head off, but John stepped in and we finished out the afternoon with an extra encore of Washing Day (on a very high spin cycle), Bluebells of Scotland and Sweet Jenny Jones.

Charlotte, Chris and his Morris family! Photo by Hannah

Thank you to everyone in the side, along with our supporters, who came and performed in the gorgeous afternoon sun, and to Donald and John for supplying the ever essential music. A special thanks though has to go to Chris. As one of the newer members of the side, Chris has a lot in life to juggle including a family, farm and veterinary occupation, but he has made time for almost every event and practice since he first joined. It was an absolutely fantastic opportunity to show our appreciation for all that hard work and commitment. Chris and Charlotte; we were grateful for you keeping us fuelled up on Beer, Pimms and Ice Cream, and we wish you both all the best for the future and thank you once again for inviting us to perform!

Squire Ryan

Platinum Jubilee Celebrations, Adderbury 4 June 22

Happy Platty Joobs everyone! This Saturday we had a brilliant time dancing out in Adderbury to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, and I’m here once again to tell you all about it. Arriving at the Bell, the cloud and wet weather didn’t dampen our spirits as we got started with our usual fare of Sweet Jenny Jones, Haste to the Wedding and Beaux of London City (Shooting). Noticing the younger members of the crowd that were beginning to gather, we danced Shepherds’ Hey followed by a jig involving a number of audience members. Having got everybody warmed up on the chilly day, we danced Constant Billy, before being approached by Louis – the owner of the Tythe Barn in Adderbury.

The Tythe Barn is celebrating its 600th Birthday and considering we dance in it for practices at the beginning of the year, we were more than happy to fulfil Louis’ request of devoting a dance to it. After singing Happy Birthday in the key of Adderbury, we danced Brighton Camp for ten people. We are always grateful to Louis for providing us with somewhere to practice, as it plays a part in keeping this tradition going. It turns out as well, that not only has the Barn hosted Morris Men, but also GIs from America during WWII! Although considering some of the ‘artefacts’ they left behind (beer bottles, mess tins and cigarette papers) I’d like to think we leave it in a much better condition after our practices. The Tythe Barn truly has a rich history, and it’s great to know we’re a part of it.

Happy 600th birthday to the Adderbury Tythe Barn! Photo by Hannah

Praying for the weather to hold out, John gave my voice a much-needed rest, and called the Bluebells of Scotland followed by a rather appropriate royalty-themed Princess Royal (which to settle an argument we had at the time, is currently Princess Anne). We decided to give ourselves more of a workout (as if we weren’t dancing hard enough), and chose to do Black Joke on an incline, with the sloped road adding even more of a challenge that the team overcame as expected. Due to a bell pad issue, I handed over calling duties to Troy, who led a dance of Washing Day, whilst David and I made emergency repairs – truly our bagman’s talents know no limits!

Making our way over to the Coach and Horses for some post lunch dancing, we kicked things off with Lads a’Buncham, followed by a Shepherds’ Hey jig with eight pairs. Seeing the crowd were keen to join in, we got a deluge of audience members, including a few of the team from Sharp and Blunt, joining in for yet another Shepherds’ Hey jig. Doing two audience jigs, and managing to get such great participation is one of the best parts of dancing out. Sharing in our tradition with people of all ages and backgrounds is truly wonderful.

Lots of children (and some of their parents too!) danced with us. Photo by Hannah

Continuing to dance turn and turnabout with Sharp and Blunt, we performed Postman’s Knock, Stourton Wake, Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket; a song which I think the Queen would perhaps not approve of. After dancing Shooting once again, we used a minor break in the rain for Dylan, Troy, David and I to dance Jockey to the Fair and this helped us to stay warm. Sharp and Blunt then led their version of Sheperds’ Hey – which actually has more differences than you would think – making a great end to the day!

Thank you to everyone who danced, as well as our Musicians Donald, Jim and Malcolm who played and kept us going no matter the weather! A special pat on the back goes to Dylan who was up and dancing or horsing for all of our songs today – I truly do envy your boundless energy! Thank you, Hannah, for capturing some special moments in the official photos of the day and thank you Sharp and Blunt for sharing the spotlight and letting us dance together outside the Coach and Horses, as well as for dancing with us throughout the day. Finally thank you to the entire organising team behind the Adderbury Jubilee Festivities, it was an excellent opportunity to dance throughout the village, and we hope everyone enjoyed it!

Squire Ryan

Kineton Farmers’ Market, 14 May 22

Set in the charming, intimate market square at the centre of the old village, the Farmers’ Market in Kineton has become one of our favourite regular annual events. The sun shone, and an appreciative local market crowd enjoyed watching us dance. We danced fifteen of our regular dances, including engaging with the market shoppers by dancing Shepherd’s Hey a second time with members of the audience, thus once again spreading the enthusiasm and raising awareness of traditional Cotswold dancing. A special mention should go to our three boys who were present; all were praised individually for the quality of their confident dancing and I was moved to emphasise to them and their mums how important they are for the future of our side.

Well danced Alfie, Owen, Theo and Luke! Photo by Hannah

The weather turned out much warmer than some of us expected and, after a few exertions with stick and hankies, one dancer particularly regretted wearing a vest under his shirt! However, a quick costume change at the half time break brought the temperature down. Percy brought a smile to many faces by sampling all the wares offered at the various stalls and he met a new friend in the form of a small cow at the ice cream stall! Because of its popularity we had originally managed to line up eleven dancers, but sadly on the day three of our number were absent due to illness; we wish them all a speedy recovery.

Our thanks to Hannah for the lovely photos and to Miles, who organised the market and supplied drinks and refreshments on the day.

David Snell, Bagman

Our thanks to Miles, the stall holders and all who encouraged us at Kineton Farmers’ Market on 14 May. Photo by Hannah

Lower Brailes Pub Dance at the George Inn with Shakespeare Morris, 9 May 22

Heading out into the gorgeous Cotswolds we had been invited to Lower Brailes for a dance-out with two sides hailing from Warwickshire – Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of llmington.

The evening started with our side dancing outside the George Inn, where we warmed up the crowd with Sweet Jenny Jones, Haste to the Wedding, Lads a Buncham, Hail to the Chief and Washing Day. Two of our newer recruits Matt and Chris, who had made it to the evening, danced brilliantly as well as Owen who really helped to add a youthful element to our side and bring the average age of the side down! Seeing an opportunity, as the other sides began to arrive, we offered them, and members of the audience, up to dance Shepherds’ Hey – providing the crowd with a taste of what we do and the other teams with a much needed warm-up!

After this Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of Ilmington began their set of dancing with a procession from St George’s Church which myself, Richard, Matt and David with our faithful Horse Charlie joined in on. We enjoyed a pleasant break taking in the dances of our fellow Morris sides, marvelling at the way in which similar songs and tunes are crafted to create different dances, routines and figures.

Old Betsy and Charlie with their riders!

Invited to dance again, John led the side in a dance of Postman’s Knock in which overzealous strikes left Richard with only half a stick mid-way through the dance! Whilst I was distracted entertaining the crowd, a quick-thinking Shakespeare Morris dancer managed to swap out the broken stick – a smooth transition which comes from years of experience.

We rounded off the dancing with turn and turnabout, in which we followed Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of Ilmington’s versions of Princess Royal and Constant Billy with our own! We were once again, revelling at the difference between the sides’ interpretations of the tradition. Since we were so close to the village it’s named after, we danced Stourton Wake before combining the three sides to perform a Brighton Camp for fourteen people as the light was getting to the point where it would stop play.

Not to be outdone though, Shakespeare Morris invited us to conclude with another procession of Constant Billy. It was a superb way to end, dancing side by side with Shakespeare and the Flowers.

Still standing after several hours of dancing, though Troy and young Owen had gone by this time …

Thank you to everyone who came from all three sides – it was great to have you all there and learn more, seeing all the dances is always an interesting and pleasurable experience as we learn about the Morris and its many intricacies. We’d especially like to thank Robert Albarton, Bagman of Shakespeare for the invite. We look forward to seeing you all again in the near future!

Squire Ryan

Preston on Stour Fete, Monday 2 May 22

AVMM were delighted to be invited back to this beautiful unspoilt village to participate in their traditional celebration of May. Assembling with a good sized crowd outside the Village Hall we processed through the village, dancing all the way to the green next to the magnificent church, accompanying the May Queen and her assistant and followed by the madding crowd. As we are a side without a traditional processional dance, we danced energetically behind Percy the horse to the tune of Speed the Plough. This provided all the warm up we needed as the road through the village is both longer and steeper than first appears to be the case.

Following the hailing and crowning of the May Queen and the singing of a supposedly traditional May carol of dubious provenance led by Donald, we performed our first set of dances to an enthusiastic audience. Beaux of London City (Shooting) went down particularly well, with Dylan and Percy milking the dramatic end of this dance for all they were worth. Our usual crowd participation number (Shepherd’s Hey Jig) featured a very healthy number of enthusiastic volunteers of all ages. A fine rendering of Postman’s Knock marked the end of our first set. However, some of the fitter younger members of the set used the break to join in the traditional sports (foot, egg and spoon, sack, wheelbarrow races et al.), where they acquitted themselves very well. Older and perhaps wiser members chose to take advantage of some relaxation time by enjoying the excellent cask ale on offer and looking for bargains on the book and plant stalls.

Audience participation in the Shepherd’s Hey, photo by Hannah.

Our second set of seven dances had to include Stourton Wake, as we were so close to the eponymous river. We also danced Constant Billy, Bluebells of Scotland, Washing Day, Old Woman Tossed up in a Blanket and finished, as is customary, with Brighton Camp. Special mention, though, must be made of the four man double Jig, Jockey to the Fair, featuring members of the same family including for the first time, young Owen, dancing with his Dad, Troy. It was good to perform this challenging dance on the green around the maypole splendidly bedecked in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. Special thanks as ever to Donald for inviting us and for providing the musical accompaniment without which we could not dance. Thanks too to our guest musician for the afternoon, Nigel Dunn, of Shakespeare Morris and the Flowers of Ilmington.

AVMM pose at the May Pole, photo by Hannah.

It was also good to meet up with our old  friend and former vicar of Adderbury, Stephen Fletcher, keeping an eye on his old flock and enjoying the proceedings as much as we did.

As I left, the tug of war was still being keenly contested between the local children and an invitation side featuring several familiar figures wearing bells and AVMM baldricks. It was a  lovely reminder of all that is best about traditional rural life. Thanks to Squire Ryan for leading the side and for his efficiency in marshalling the troops and to Hannah Ekers for capturing the atmosphere of the day so well with her photos. Our next dance out is at Kineton Farmers’ Market on Saturday 14th May from 10am.

John Ekers, Former Squire

Adderbury Day of Dance, 23 April 2022

An event we had been waiting two years for had finally come around! A Day of Dance throughout the village of Adderbury with the other two sides was about to commence and all the months of planning and practice were about to come to fruition…

After assembling at the library our team made our way over to conduct our opening ceremony at Charlie Coleman’s grave at St. Mary’s Church in Adderbury. An event which takes place every year to start the day, we take the time to welcome all of those who travelled to take part, and pay our respects to Charlie. This year, the ceremony began with the poem “Adderbury Sunrise” read by Jim Plester (filling in for Chris Garrett), followed by the Day of Dance song performed by Donald with the team, family and friends present accompanying during the chorus. Finally, we had Charlie’s son Mike, who had travelled all the way from Canterbury, pour the first beer of the day over his father’s grave, which he’d only just tidied the day before!

With spirits high and everyone itching to get dancing, we made our way round to Church Lane where many of the street’s inhabitants – including Countryfile presenter John Craven – had come out to watch us in the street (or to see what all the noise was about first thing on a Saturday morning). Dancing our two signature dances Sweet Jenny Jones and Haste to Wedding (Flasher) with two sets, we then had our first triple set of the day, as eighteen dancers stepped up to perform Constant Billy. Our hard work was well rewarded, as snacks were provided by the residents to help keep our strength up. Finishing with Stourton Wake and Washing Day, the weather was starting to clear as we made our way down to the streams.

Our numbers continued to grow, as we made our way down through the churchyard, and arrived to dance and interrupt the peaceful tranquillity of the bridge crossing the Sor Brook. Another three sets danced Shepherds’ Hey (despite my set being somewhat misled by my bad calling) followed by the Beaux of London City. It was so brilliant to see such a varied group of people, from all different ages and walks of life, coming together for a fantastic day. The Day of Dance is a huge highlight in our year of events, and the team coming together in such strong numbers really made it an exceptional occasion.

Moving up to Rose Cottage, we couldn’t help but make the most of our numbers and dance a five set Princess Royal – that’s twenty dancers! Whilst the direction of our foot up was throwing even some of our most seasoned dancers off, we were undeterred and danced up and down the road. After this, three sets danced the Roast Beef of Old England before making our way up the village.

On Colin Butler Green at the top of Adderbury Village is a tree which was planted in memory of one of the side’s founding members Bryan Sheppard. Being part of the team, which revived Morris Dancing in Adderbury in 1975, without Bryan we wouldn’t be enjoying this long-standing tradition. His influence still carries forward to this day, and he’s always being thought of as we spread the joy of dancing. Gail Sheppard (Brian’s Wife), had decorated the tree with heart-warming messages and paintings of his outfits worn throughout the years as the fool, including a large chicken, a priest and a gorilla. Once we’d danced Happy Man, we invited Gail to pour a pint of Hooky over the tree, much like with Charlie Coleman in the churchyard, which we will continue to do at Days of Dance to come. I hope that both Charlie and Bryan are always watching our dances and enjoying the continuation of the long-standing tradition they both played their part in preserving. Hail to the Chief, followed by Postman’s Knock (in tribute to Colin Butler who was the former postman which the green was named after), and Buffoon concluded our dancing, as we made our way down towards the Bell.

After assembling with the Adderbury Morris Men (AMM), we gathered for a minute’s applause to remember not only Bryan, but all the dancers we had lost during the pandemic. Tim Radford who was part of the group responsible for the folk revival in Adderbury during the 1970s gave a speech remembering all those lost, and following this, the AMM then danced their version of Happy Man and everyone present sang along to the tune which both sides know all too well. Before moving onto the Coach and Horses for a well-deserved lunch, we danced Lads a’Buncham, a four pair (eight person) Jockey to the Fair with all different ages, and the Bluebells of Scotland. I remember when Jockey could only be danced by a handful of members, but after practising throughout the early year, having eight performing for the crowds was a fantastic moment.

The crowds had begun to gather outside the Coach and Horses even before we arrived for lunch, and by the time we’d eaten I was told they weren’t content with just Black Joke and Brighton Camp, and were screaming for more! More dancing or more beer, I can’t totally be sure, but we were happy to oblige. We weren’t alone for long, as Sharp and Blunt had arrived to dance and support us in entertaining these raucous crowds. Alternating dances, we managed to fit in Roast Beef and Old Woman Tossed Up in a Blanket before hopping over to the Red Lion. To make sure the patrons of the Red Lion weren’t missing out on the day’s events, we danced Washing Day, Flasher, Postman’s Knock, Stourton Wake, and Sweet Jenny Jones – all with two sets!! At this point, if you’ve made it this far through the article, thank you for reading! But you may also be wondering “Ryan, how do you manage a side of twenty people and keep a track of what you’re doing and what you’ve done?” so I’m going to briefly give a behind the scenes detail. This is my first year as Squire during the Day of Dance, so I used some of my IT skills to create the tracker in the image below:

Ryan’s spreadsheet!

As some of the members of the team would tell you, I do like a good spreadsheet to keep track of things, and in order to write the report as accurately as possible this truly seemed like the best option!! Anyway, analytics aside, we were back to the Coach and Horses to make use of the crowd who had been attentively watching us and Sharp and Blunt perform.

After giving a performance of Shepherds’ Hey, we invited members of the crowd to join in, performing two sets as a jig which encompassed more than we had time to count! We love getting everyone involved and showing them just how much fun Morris Dancing can be for anyone interested. Hopefully we can use this opportunity to attract some new recruits – our email is on this website under the “Contact Us” section if you’re interested! We finished with Constant Billy, before moving onto the Bell and the much-anticipated drinking jig!!

As we watched Sharp and Blunt performing, orders of what everyone wanted were being noted down. We had both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, but this year we were joined by the members of Sharp and Blunt (including their Squire, Beth), along with landlord of the Bell itself Chris, his wife Sandra, and his daughter Grace. As I dashed inside to place the bumper order, I left the team in the capable hands of our former squire John, where they danced another set of Brighton Camp for eighteen people, Shooting and the Bluebells of Scotland. Emerging with the drinks in hand, it was time to set up and dance the infamous drinking jig! It was brilliant to have our side come together with Sharp and Blunt along with Chris from the Bell, for a drinking jig our members have been waiting for almost two years for! It was a truly memorable occasion and one we will remember for years to come! Not least because Chris’ daughter Grace downed her pint quicker than him during the jig – it’s probably a good thing that a landlord can’t down a drink too quickly, otherwise there would be none left for the customers!

We then made our way up to Le Halle place to join up with AMM and to enjoy some well-deserved tea and cakes organised and provided by Sharp and Blunt. Sitting in the garden outside Janet Blunt’s former residence, surrounded by Morris Dancers with their friends and family, was truly a delightful moment that made the hard work of the day feel so worthwhile. We did a turn and turnabout with the three sides, in which we danced Washing Day a final time, before inviting Sharp and Blunt, and AMM to dance Brighton Camp with us. AMM, stood in a set alongside AVMM and Sharp and Blunt to make two long sets of dancers, with our combined set having twenty four dancers – far more than any set I had ever led before, and my charts for Brighton Camp couldn’t account for it. After running the numbers, we put together an amazing collaboration, in a true display of unity across all sides of the village. We all love Morris Dancing (even when it has to be on soft grass), and sharing in that love is one of the things which makes the day truly remarkable.

We all made our way back down to the Bell for a final set of dancing. Taking it in turns between each side, we danced Flasher, Happy Man, Roast Beef, Hail to the Chief, another three pairs in Jockey to the Fair, and finally after Sharp and Blunt had done their version of the Beaux of London City, we decided we’d perform our version too (don’t worry I asked and they said it was ok) as we rounded off our day with a total of 40 dances. As our team started to disperse, we joined one final dance of Shepherds’ Hey with the Adderbury Morris Men, Sharp and Blunt, and members of the public bringing the day to a wonderful conclusion.

Ok, I think that covers the day’s events so now, we need to do a part I feel is equally important – thanking people. In no particular order:

Thank you to both the Adderbury Morris Men and Sharp and Blunt who dance with us every year, and are part of this wonderful tradition we all share. It was great to speak to you this year and be able to bring music and dance to the village after the two-year hiatus.

To Jim Plester, Donald McCombie, Malcolm Wood and Dorset Dave who provided music for our side throughout the day. Truly a linchpin of our team, the music was brilliant and we can only hope your hands and fingers have been resting as much as our feet have been.

To Gail Sheppard for not only decorating Bryan’s tree but also being present there and supporting our dancing and buying our side, as well as the Adderbury Morris Men, drinks that no doubt kept us going during the day. We truly appreciate your generosity and were so happy to have you there. We hope to see you at more events in the future.

To Louis for continued use of the Tythe barn for practices – a building which has been well looked after over the years, which has helped to provide a shelter from the elements and enabled us to hone our dancing skills.

To Tony and his team at the Coach and Horses for providing lunch which we wholeheartedly enjoyed! Our team needs fuel after I’ve marched them up and down the village and it’s always appreciated.

To Chris and his staff from the Bell for providing drinks to everyone during the day and also for the jig. We appreciate everything you’ve done for our side over the years, and whilst we want you to stay longer at the Bell, I speak for all of us when I say we wish you the best of luck in the future. Saying you will be missed is a gross understatement, but maybe with all that free time on your hands you might consider taking up a dance-based hobby…

To the family and friends who followed us throughout the day, providing drinks, food, lifts and around support we appreciate you and everything you do. We hope you enjoy watching as much as we enjoy performing for you. A special mention goes to Hannah, who is our prized photographer and does a brilliant job at making us look good in our photos. Hannah had a whopping 270 photos to sift through to pick our favourites for the the AVMM Facebook page.

To our young members who are the future of the side, including our up-and-coming dancer Luke, who took part in some of his first dances on the day, and received his first hat and stick. We also had Leo dancing around with our smaller horse Percy providing further entertainment and mischief – we hope to have you and many others continuing this tradition well into the future.

To all the members who travelled up and down the country to join us. Mark French and Bob Southern worked the box and made sure we have funds to pay for equipment, lunches and drinks on days like the Day of Dance. Chris and Matt who are two newer members also did brilliantly and managed to keep up with their first Day of Dance excellently. I mentioned the number of dancers we had a lot in the report but it’s because it was truly outstanding to have three sets of six dancing at various times throughout the day. Coming together like this is truly an amazing experience and every year we make memories that last a lifetime and I am so grateful to all who participated.

Thanks also to David for being bagman, voluntary road safety officer, tailor, stick curator, lunch buyer and horse wrangler. It is sometimes overlooked but the work of a Bagman is a hard, often thankless task but I truly do believe that it is vital for our side to keep going. Your organisation is brilliant, you bring everyone together and I couldn’t do what I do without your help. In my eyes, a Bagman is more important than a Squire – I just turn up and shout figures at people! Finally, a big thank you to all the agencies and volunteers who enable the Day of Dance to happen.

Right, I can hear the orchestra playing which means I’ve been talking for too long, but I did have a lot to say about the day. It was brilliant and as my first Day of Dance as Squire, I don’t think it could have gone much better. To sum up the day I can only think of something which one of our members Ian Baum said when looking at the wide range of dancers we have in our side – we remember the past, and look forward to the future. Thank you for reading, if you came to see us, thank you for watching and I’ll see you all at the next event!!

Squire Ryan