Saturday, June 10, 2006

Shrewsbury Morris Weekend

We all went to Shrewsbury last weekend (2nd - 4th June). It made a change to have both Bedfordshire Lace and Redbornstoke away at the same weekend of dance, and a jolly fine do it was too!
The weather, for a start, was magnificent - the first bit of sun we'd seen for ages, and warming up all weekend. The school where we stayed was well-appointed, and we all had plenty of space for indoor camping. Organisation was superb, probably something to do with the main organiser being Assistant Head of the school!
Friday evening was the usual meet-and-greet session, with a very welcome and well-prepared meal (by Bull & Pump Morris' resident chef), plenty of excellent local beer, and, of course, the Redbornstoke tradition of passing Tommee Tippee around!
On Saturday we danced in Shrewsbury, moving between venues with our "mini-tour", which for Redbornstoke was Old Meg and Hexhamshire Lasses, and all having a turn at the Market Place with our Hosts, Shrewsbury Lasses and Bull & Pump Morris. It was really good to meet with Old Meg again, as we had quite a close dancing relationship with them some years ago. Hexhamshire Lasses are just lovely dancers, and I could listen to their musician all day (in fact I did!). Pleasant spots to dance in were the Quarry and outside St. Mary's Church, a redundant, but very attractive parish church in the centre of town. The Market Place was nicely central with a good crowd, but the Riverside Shopping Centre was rather unpleasant, and a bit too crowded. Redbornstoke put on a good show throughout, and the general standard of dancing, as seen by us, was high. Other teams involved were Ryknild Rabble, Hexham Morris Men, Carlisle Morris and Sword and Mockbeggar Morris.
In the evening, the dinner and ceilidh had as "S" theme (for "Shrewsbury", presumably), and quite a few participants entered into the spirit . Bedfordshire Lace had decided to go "Silver", especially as this is their 25th year of dancing, and looked fantastic in their silver "Cleopatra" wigs (someone said they reminded him of Amanda Barry in Carry On Cleo!)
and silver accessories. Redbornstoke came at the theme obliquely, as always, and chose "Sand" as the basis for their costumes. Each member of the team then interpreted their own word in their own way, and we handed out questionnaires for the rest of the party to guess what we were supposed to be. John's "Marks and Spencer" and Andrew's "Sandpiper" were probably the hardest to get! Much jollity was created by this little entertainment, and a very valuable egg-timer was presented to the winning team.
The ceilidh had Stomp and Andrew Swaine as music and caller, and they were again excellent, just as at Chippenham last week. There were rather more inexperienced dancers in the hall than Andrew, the band, or most of the Morris Dancers had imagined, as the general public had been invited, and, I suspect, a few family friends had been enticed along. A good time was had by all, however, and the Shrewsbury Morris prixes for the "most sexy", "most silly", "most sophisticated", etc. costume went mostly to Stuart, the sax player from This Way Up band, who came as a "Swimmer" - just trunks, swimming hat and towel!!
Tommee Tippee was empty, but Gill's hip flask sustained the Redbornstokers (and Gill), and we were the last to turn in at about 1:30 on Sunday morning.
After breakfast and packing up on Sunday, we travelled to Church Stretton, where the survivors from Saturday (Redbornstoke, Beds. Lace, Carlisle, Hexham, Hexhamshire Lasses and, of course, Shrewsbury) were joined by the marvellous Shropshire Bedlams and Martha Rhoden's Tuppeny Dish. We danced for a good hour and a half in the closed-off marketplace in this very attractive village, watched the air-ambulance collect someone who had collapsed in the church (serve them right!), and had a convivial sandwich lunch in the Buck's Head, while consuming an Archer's beer called "Wet Dream"! (though probably only in that pub!). Finally, we had to leave, and return to the reality that is work on Monday, but not before serenading the three members of Redbornstoke who had decided to wimp out of indoor camping and stay in a B&B for the weekend. The version of the D-Day Dodgers now entitled the B&B Softies will be recorded for posterity! We bade a fond farewell to our hosts, and left with memories of a superb weekend, good comradeship, excellent weather, and the knowledge that being involved with the Morris really is about having a huge family all over the country and, indeed, the world.

Pictures: Bull & Pump Morris; Shrewsbury Lasses (Top)
Beds. Lace; Amanda Barry; "Marks & Spencer"; "Sandpiper" (Middle)
Shropshire Bedlams; Redbornstoke; Beds. Lace (Below)


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