Goodbye from the Bag

Hello! For those of you who don’t know, I’m Charlotte, soon-to-be-former Bag for Summertown Morris, of which part of my job has been social media/webmaster. This has been one of the bits I’ve really enjoyed about the job over the last few months that I’ve had it, as it means I get to see just how much people seem to enjoy our dancing, and pick up and pass around the compliments we get when people don’t quite get to catch us at dance outs.

I’m off to Sheffield very soon, and in the midst of the boxes and the stress, I just wanted to do a proper little sign off and say how great it’s been to get all the feedback on our various adventures from all those of you who’ve been keeping up with us, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or on here. Dancing with Summertown has been a real privilege, and the comments on our photos, videos, and posts have really highlighted how lucky I am to have been among such excellent people for the last year and a bit.

I wish my successor every bit of luck as they take on the job, and I hope that you will all carry on supporting us moving forward. As for me, I’ll still be dancing, though probably involving a lot more facepaint than previously (I’m headed for the dark side, as it were, and going Border), and I’m sure I’ll see plenty of Summertown supporters around at festivals and what have you.

All that remains is to say, once more, thank you to Summertown and to our supporters for making this bit of the job, as well as the dancing, so fun. See you around!


Folk Weekend: Oxford 2016

Better late than never, here’s the roundup on our first dance out of this year’s summer season. Folk Weekend is always one of our favourite gigs, and as the start of our season, it’s also our chance to get our new members out and dancing for the first time. This year, we had three new members on their first full day of dancing. Kate, Kristiina, and Nerys all did an absolutely amazing job dancing, and we’re chuffed to bits to have them join us this year. Special thanks also to our musician, Danika, for holding us all together during the day, despite having to avoid raindrops in the bellows…

Despite the Reliably Pleasant English Weather, we had great fun. It was an honour to be asked to dance at the official opening spot of the entire festival with Hobos Border Morris outside the Ashmolean, which made a fantastic start to the entire day. A brief busking spot at Carfax Tower with Alton Morris followed, then the ever-important lunch break. Our second scheduled spot, in the Covered Market, was shared with City Clickers clog dancers. I think it’s safe to say we were all really impressed with their dancing, and we enjoyed getting out of the rain too! We busked again for a short while outside the Weston Library under a tentative patch of blue sky, before the sun came out in time for our final spot of the day at Bonn Square, which we shared with Mr. Hemmings Traditional Abingdon Morris Dancers and Phoenix Morris. One of our dancers was lucky enough to be the Maid in the Mill for Mr. Hemmings, too!

We had some really lovely compliments about our dancing over the course of the day, and seem to have picked up one or two invites to come and dance with other sides, so hopefully we’ll be getting out some more over the course of the summer.

Our thanks are, as always, due to Nina and the whole Folk Weekend team for having us again, as well as those of our number who travelled a fair way to come and join us. Lastly, thanks to our unofficial photographer for the day, Phil Robinson, who joined our small band of hangers-on for the day and got some great shots of us in action.

Photos from the day are available here in our Flickr gallery, and it’s well worth checking out the whole of the Folk Weekend Flickr group for more awesome pictures of the various sides around Oxford. That’s all for now, so we’ll leave you with a video of our three-woman Princess Royal from our spot at the Covered Market.

Moosemeat and Marmalade

Last weekend, we were briefly dragged out of our winter hibernation/practice mode for a very exciting project, the like of which we’ve never done before. Canadian food show Moosemeat and Marmalade is currently filming in the UK, looking at our native foods from different viewpoints with cooks Art Napoleon and Dan Hayes. The episode they were filming over the weekend was based around Hook Norton brewery and squirrel hunting (yes, squirrel!), and they wanted some Cotswold Morris dancers to show some of what goes on around here besides the unexpected culinary opportunities!

We’ve never danced on film before, so it was a very different experience to our usual, more relaxed pattern, but we did have an audience, which certainly helped! Dancing Wheatley Trunkles three times back-to-back was a real challenge, especially for those who were asked to pull out a round of Princess Royal straight afterwards, and the weather was not as favourable as we might have liked. In the end, though, it was a great day, and a real baptism by fire for one of our newest dancers, Nerys, who was on her first proper dance-out and did spectacularly. A particular shoutout is due also to our two musicians, Sam and Danika – Sam came along specially to help us out, and Danika came out on both Saturday and Sunday for us, so we owe them both a lot for making this project possible and playing brilliantly.

The next day, our Squire (Victoria) and Bagman (Charlotte) went along to the “squirrel feast” the next day, to taste the results of the previous day’s squirrel hunt. Squirrel Ragu wasn’t a concept either of us had entirely expected, but it tasted fantastic and the meal was very enjoyable. Afterwards, we had one more task, to teach the cooks how to Morris dance. Aside from a couple of inopportune tea-towel flicks (they didn’t opt for hankies), they were both very good, and it provided plenty of laughs all round.

All in all, it was one of the more unusual tasks we’ve had as a side, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely, and are looking forward to seeing the results. We’ll let you know how you can view the programme yourselves when it comes out, but until then, we’ll be working hard for our next outing at Folk Weekend Oxford next month. See you then!

Whittlesea Strawbear 2016

This past weekend saw our first outing of 2016 at the annual Whittlesea Strawbear festivities. We have attended almost every year of our existence (bar our first), and as always, had a wonderful time dancing out around the town and in the procession. It was a beautiful, but very cold, day – dancing outside presented its usual challenges in the form of losing the feeling in our hands, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed with the regular passing round of a flask of sloe gin! Sunday saw the showcase in which we danced our customary 3-man jig version of Princess Royal, and enjoyed watching everyone else’s performances, particularly those we hadn’t managed to catch at our own spots.

It’s now a bit of a quiet spell for us in terms of performance as we concentrate on practising hard with our new members and getting ready for what we consider the beginning of our dance season proper at Folk Weekend Oxford. We’ll be dancing on the Saturday, times and locations tbc. We hope to see you around soon, and until then, we hope you like the pictures of us dancing from the weekend. There are also a few videos kicking around, which can be easily accessed from our Facebook page.


The End of Another Year

We performed our final dance out of the year, today, for the shoppers at the Oxford Christmas Market. We and they enjoyed our sets, despite one dancer managing to both caper *into* a bike and hit a pedestrian with a stick. That not withstanding, it was a fine end to what has been a great year for the side, and it was lovely to relax with mulled wine together afterwards.

This year has been fantastic – starting with Whittlesea in January, we also enjoyed dancing at Folk Weekend Oxford, May Day, and Chippenham Folk Festival. On the smaller scale, we’ve also enjoyed dancing out with, among others, Cry Havoc, Armaleggan, Headington Quarry Morris Dancers, Town and Gown, Sarum Morris, Sharp and Blunt, and from further afield Renegade Rose (Portland, Oregon), Sound and Fury (Seattle, Washington), and Adelaide Morris Men. There are, of course, so many others with whom we’ve danced this year and it would be impossible to list them, but suffice to say that we’ve enjoyed every single dance out with all of the sides we’ve met, and we’ve made some great friends along the way.

Looking forward to next year, we’ve started getting lots of plans together already, including a return to Whittlesea, Folk Weekend, and Chippenham, some events of our own devising, and the customary run of dance outs with the usual list of fantastic dancers we’re so lucky to know. It’s going to be a busy one but we’re really excited to see what the year holds.

This is a good moment to thank all of you who have supported us, whether by taking/sharing pictures, inviting us to dance, or simply coming to watch. We work hard, of course, but it’s all pointless without our audience and friends.

We’ll see you in the New Year, and until then, whatever you’re celebrating and with whom, we hope you have a great one!

Headington Quarry Ale and Feast

Having had so much fun dancing out on Whit Monday with Headington Quarry Morris Dancers, and again with them in August, we were delighted to be invited to join their annual Ale and Feast. As the first ever female side to have been invited to do so, it was perhaps a little daunting, but we had a lovely evening. Other guests included Moulton Morris Men, Mr. Hemmings Traditional Abingdon Morris Dancers, Thaxted Morris, Ravensbourne Morris (among whom is the Treasurer of the Morris Ring, Steve Archer), Winchester Morris, and Eynsham Morris ( I think that’s it! Comment if I missed anyone out…).

We’ve not been to all that many Ales thus far, but we had a lovely evening. We were made to feel very welcome without too much being made of the fact that we were the only 6 women in the room (no mean feat on anyone’s part!), and greatly enjoyed the other sides’ contributions to the evening, including some very fine jigging from Headington Quarry’s new members and Bagman, beautiful singing from our own Jackie Oates, and, of course, lots of dancing from everyone too. We contributed a dance of our own, too, a four-woman version of Valentine (a favourite of ours, video below). We were very flattered to be told we were among the best dancing of the evening, which is high praise indeed bearing in mind the other sides in the room!

That’s all for now – we’re busy practising for a few events over the winter, including Whittlesea Straw Bear and a possible event or two in Oxford, but we look forward to dancing in warmer weather very soon! Until then, our dance from last night is below, and we hope you enjoy it.

Whit Monday with Headington Quarry

Bank Holiday Monday saw us dancing with the legendary Headington Quarrry Morris Dancers, who kindly invited us to join them in their annual Whit tour of the pubs of Headington Quarry.

We enjoyed seeing our musician Jack with a different hat on (literally) and getting to know the other Headington men.  They even gave us a tasty buffet after all that hard dancing!

Summertown Morris’ photos of Whit Monday 2015 with Headington Quarry

Headington Quarry Morris Dancers mid-dance