Marketing & Heritage…ing

It’s a busy period for us at the moment and it’s not over yet as we have dancing visits to come at Prees WI on Thursday 9th October and at NT Dudmaston for their Orchard Day on 12th October.

However, back up the days a little and Saturday 20th September saw something of a double header for us as we danced for Shifnal Farmer’s Market in the morning and then went on to dance at the Ironbridge Heritage Day Festival in the afternoon.

The Shrewsbury Morris bandwagon rolled into lovely Shifnal at 9.30 on a dull but warm Saturday morning and we did what we do best on arriving early at a dance venue….we got coffee!….and breakfast 🙂

We received our usual warm and friendly welcome from the Farmer’s Market staff (most of whom we know from Twitter anyway) and had a quick explore of the varied stalls (more Twitter buddies) on display as the rest of the team arrived.

Once we were all in place we began the first of our two 45 min dance spots and enjoyed a really good morning of energetic and fun dancing with a fair old crowd watching us and being very appreciative (not all Twitter friends…oh OK, some were!)

Just as we finished our second dance spot and were taking a break a lovely lady (@lajina on twitter) turned up with free, warm, just cooked bhajis – perfect timing! Whenever you present a Morris side with free food they never fail to disappoint with their appetites and this was no exception as the bhajis quickly disappeared as though they were going out of fashion!

Unexpected lunch devoured, we said our goodbyes to our market friends, mounted up and made our way to beautiful Ironbridge, where we had been offered free parking at The Station car park, not an area of the town that too many of us were familiar with but which looks extremely interesting and well worth a further visit. But this was dance business so we crossed the Ironbridge itself and amused ourselves for an hour amongst the many stalls and activities going on, before starting our first set right outside the Tontine Hotel in front of the Ironbridge – a great place to dance!

A very large crowd gathered to watch us and they were extremely lively and appreciative which always energises us a little more. The same happened at our second spot in The Square 45 minutes later which was marvellous for us. We even had some children joining in and had to pose for photos with them afterwards, which of course we were more than pleased to do, even though we are very shy and retiring (*coughs*…*splutters*)

All afternoon (in fact all day) our dancers and musicians were brilliant and I think we entertained lots of people on a pretty spectacular Heritage Festival Day. The feedback given to us by some of the spectators was really lovely and most kind which is always great to hear.

A tired but very happy Shrewsbury Morris made our way home with the applause and encouraging cheers still ringing in our collective ears….

…..and at least it didn’t rain :)))

Festivals, Pubs and Heritage Days

Blogs eh? You wait for one for ages and then three come along at the same time…bit like Morris sides. Truth is I’ve been meaning to blog lately and then time just sneaked up on me.

So, what’s been going on in the world of Shrewsbury Morris? Well, in a nutshell, during our annual summer break we divided our forces at the end of August and were proud to be able to support two major UK festivals at the same time. Our seasoned festival organisers and their helpers carried out their usual fabulous work at Towersey and a small but perfectly formed team, backed by the amazing Barbara Cole on melodeon performed for Shrewsbury Folk festival around town all day, ending up at the festival site in the evening for the final dance spot. Both groups of course did Shrewsbury Morris proud in their respective locations and roles.

As September arrived the team came back together again for two very nice performances in the local village of Baschurch on Thurs Sep 7th, one for the residents of Millington Close and the other just down the road from there at the New Inn. It was a lovely, balmy evening which saw a bit of rust shaken off sticks and hankies as the Shrewsbury Lasses and Bull and Pump Morrismen went through their repertoires for a very appreciative audience in both locations. We were even treated to tea, cake, sandwiches and a lot of kindness from the residents in Millington Close….and we’re always up for that!

Our most recent dance out saw us performing on Sat 13th September for the Heritage Day of the Lord Hill’s Column in Shrewsbury followed by a short trip across town to the Flax Mill for their Open Day. We had a great surface and space to dance in outside the Shire Hall in the morning and, although spectators were a little few and far between we had a great time there, even joined at one stage by Shropshire Army Cadet Force!! The Flax Mill was, as always, great although we didn’t get to dance inside this time around.

This coming weekend (Sat 20th Sep) we are dancing in Shifnal for the Farmers Market in the morning and moving on to dance for Ironbridge Heritage Day in the afternoon which should be brilliant.

The fun doesn’t stop there as the following weekend we are travelling up to the Lake District to dance in Keswick all weekend as Belfagan Women’s Morris team host The Morris Federation Day of Dance.

Then it’s all hands to the pumps to prepare for our Open Evenings on Thursdays Oct 16th and 23rd at Sundorne School from 8pm and to get ready for our Christmas Ceilidh and our performance in Parliament on Monday Dec 8th which we are all just a little excited about!!

It’s a great time to be in Shrewsbury Morris – why not come and give it a go with us in October? We’d love to see you!

Daze and Knights in Church Stretton

A boiling hot June day at the Church Stretton Medieval Fayre should really have seen us don armour, helmets and leather…bits and, under the tutelage of our liege lord Ray Langton, sally forth to the aforementioned town, for to demonstrate our prowess with powerful weapons of destruction whilst saving various damsels from cupcake stall owners and people who make animals out of sand in the high street (actually that’s quite clever and I’m just jealous).

So we did some of that….the sallying forth bit anyway and arrived in The Square in Church Stretton for our early morning booked spot. We found a really organised area with benches and a big space (clearly someone thought people were going to come and watch us) and we prepared.

A huge crowd actually appeared and thoroughly appreciated us and the other performers making up the morning’s entertainment. The Shrewsbury Lasses took the whole chivalric thing very seriously, flashing the odd Order of The Garter here and there and Bull and Pump Morrismen made sure that their war hammers (well, sticks actually) clashed mightily in the sunshine. They even managed to drive a coach and whole stableful of horses through one of their best dances…….more practice beckons! :)))

The Morris siege of The Square only lasted a short while however and we dispersed before it became necessary for the besiegers to catapult dodgy bits and pieces over the castle walls.

It was a lovely day for us, we had a lot of fun, danced well and entertained a great many people. I even got home in time to watch the cricket!! A medieval bonus!


Arboring (a dance ambition) (with apologies to Rosie Evans)

Come see our famous Black Poplar
With flags flying high in the sun
Join in our Arbor Tree Festival
Said the village of Aston on Clun

So we gathered our bells and our bobbins
Our hankies, our sticks and our charms
The rain it poured down in Church Stretton
But had vanished by Craven Arms
We parked by the hall in the village
Bull and Pump, Lasses all fair
Our friends from Telford and Ironbridge
The Ironmen and Gilders were there.

Come see our famous Black Poplar
With flags flying high in the sun
Join in our Arbor Tree Festival
Said the village of Aston on Clun

There was dancing and singing and whooping
The clashing of sticks filled the air
St Brigit herself would have liked to see
The whirling of dresses and hair
Children and adults in costume
Speeches and poems and prayers
Even a comedy story, from
South Shropshire’s own Pam Ayres

Come see our famous Black Poplar
With flags flying high in the sun
Join in our Arbor Tree Festival
Said the village of Aston on Clun

We all processed to the car park
Fixed our banner well firm to a gate
The Lasses they danced a fine Grenoside
Bull and Pump did a Gallop for eight
The weather stayed dry which was welcome
Great fun was had to the last
As usual when dancing in Shropshire
Shrewsbury Morris had an absolute blast

We saw the famous Black Poplar
Its flags flying high in the sun
We loved the Arbor Tree Festival
Let’s go back to Aston on Clun



Smalls, Halls and Stalls

Since our last blog I’m ashamed to say that we’ve had three more fabulous dance-outs – so for the sake of brevity I am encapsulating all of the three into one blog……I know, terribly lazy but needs must when the devil stamps on your bells….or something like that….

First of the three was the really lovely Bayston Hill WW1 Commemoration Fayre on Sat 3rd May (Oh no was it THAT long ago?). A hot day and one that saw two brand new ladies (Sue and Beryl) make their very successful debuts in the ranks of the Shrewsbury Lasses. Brilliant to see our new dancers (men and women) doing so well so quickly. Our two performances on the school playground went well and some keen children danced alongside us imitating our moves….(sign them up quick!!) This was a nice event to do, especially given the context of the day and was clearly well supported by the local community. A good day made perfect by the fact that we also met…..Magic Kev!!….my life is complete:)))


After a break on the Sunday we were (like Davey….OK, maybe too early) on the road again on Bank Holiday Monday, this time to the amazing National Trust property at Dudmaston Hall, near Bridgnorth. The lovely Nikki Hook had been organising this at the Dudmaston end for a while and being a bit of a Twitter buddy of ours we were looking forward to meeting her at last. We were firstly impressed by the fact that we had our own hut, complete with drink making facilities (no, only tea and coffee sadly!!), storage and rest area……don’t always get THAT!! The place is beautiful and we were dancing in a walled orchard where all sorts of activities were taking place around us. The day started well when Ray completed his road sweeping duties to clear our dance area and Bev then asked us all to line up…..which of course we did (you don’t argue with Bev). She then asked us…, actually ORDERED us to cross the dance area clearing every last stone. So, if any local police forces require any finger tip searches of crime scenes completed, who you gonna call?…..Shrewsbury Morris!

The day itself was absolutely great, we had three dance spots, huge crowds at each spot (all very appreciative), the team danced and played their little socks off, we managed to get Nikki involved in a Steeple Claydon (she’s a great sport), the men danced a ten man Upton and Ralph’s Reel (unheard of for years) and Ray and Bev led a huge Farandole (it’s a procession) at the end which culminated in the raising of the decorated May Tree. A lovely day – and we’re going back in October….get your finger tip searching rubber gloves on folks! :))


The third of our recent dance outs (Sunday 11th May) found us rather more local to Shrewsbury, in the village of Minsterley at The Rea Valley Produce Market, a super local event held in one of the largest village halls in the country. We were able to catch up with a few of the stall holders who were social media friends and the dancing, in a reasonably tight space was really good (I think small spaces are better) – in particular the lines formed by both the women and the men were really impressive, and I have the photographic evidence to prove it….Bev! (so the gruelling training pays off then?). In between our three dance spots the local stalls, in particular for some reason the food stalls…..took a bit of a pasting from the team and I think the Scotch Egg lady may have had to re-stock completely!

Three lovely dance-outs, new dancers ‘blooded”, big crowds (in fact a record crowd day at Dudmaston we were told) and all in very different but very nice local areas. Good times!!


Next stop – Aston on Clun on Sunday 25th May for Arbor Day celebrations…….I promise the next blog will be on time…….or I’m not a police finger tip searcher……..oh wait! :)))

VG at the WI

When the Women’s Institute asks you to go and dance for them, the only real question is “where do you want us”……I mean….we’re talking tea….we’re talking cake…we’re talking being looked after………*sigh*…………………………oh sorry!!….ahem…..

…and so it was when Bridgnorth WI asked us to dance for them at St James’ Hall in their lovely town at the end of April.

We have a special show, a sort of Morris Roadshow (I call it) which we have taken round for a number of years now to perform in small venues such as village halls, community centres etc. It’s compact, energetic, busy and full of music and dance (bit like us really) and it’s so much fun for us to do.

We can fit about 11 dances into it, some Morris/dance education, a bit of a sing-song and some mock interviews with team members (that’s when we all try to hide) and sometimes members of the audience.

The evening at Bridgnorth was great. We were warmly welcomed by the very cheerful and friendly women there (always a bonus when you turn up and people actually know you’re coming!) and made to feel very comfortable before we got going. We had a good number of team members available so were able to put out a nice mixture of new and seasoned team members and musicians into a nicely informal atmosphere.

Ray (Our Squire) began proceedings with our traditional Calling On song “Staines Morris” then the Bull and Pump Morris Men got things underway with a very spirited “Upton” followed by an excellent “Severn Steps” from The Shrewsbury Lasses.

For our new members this was only their second dance-out ever and they coped extremely well with warm and slightly space-restricted conditions (all part of being a Morris Dancer, just got to get your Morris radar right).

The evening went brilliantly, the dancers were fabulous, our musicians were, as always awesome and the audience were really great as they clapped, even cheered in some places and joined in at the end with a communal (and, as always chaotic) Steeple Claydon dance. Bull and Pump also debuted (for most of us anyway) an eight man Shrewsbury Gallop which is when………well, you’ll just have to come and see it! :))

The legendary hospitality of the WI was very much in evidence at the end of a super evening when sponges, cakes (lemon drizzle – personal favourite of many of us….hint…hint)), tea coffee and other goodies were produced and we had a good chat with many of the WI members before returning to Shrewsbury.

If you are interested in booking us for one of these events just email……but don’t forget….lemon drizzle…..OK?? *winks*

Tick VG for Shrewsbury Morris :))

From Busk til Yawn

Quentin Tarantino would have been (almost) proud. It all started with a secret photo-shoot in a highly cool location, involved a sharply dressed young rap star, gorgeous musical divas and……..two Morris Dancers……oh well, perhaps you can’t have everything (George Clooney for example)……or maybe you can?

The truth is we were delighted and very honoured to be asked to perform for the second Big Busk to be held in Shrewsbury town centre on Sat 5th April 2014.

We jumped at the invitation to be a small part of the amazing group of, musicians, singers, dancers, drummers, magicians, animal experts, yoga…erm…practitioners, poets, readers, spoon players and street artistes who turned out in huge numbers to support the worthy cause of The Shrewsbury Ark.

It being our first dance-out of the new 2014 season we were very excited to be able to include three new men (Mike, Richard and a new Tom) in the ranks of The Bull and Pump Morris Men. The new ladies who have joined the Shrewsbury Lasses are working hard at practice and are just waiting for their kit before they join us dancing in public too, which is also very exciting.

Photo courtesy of Simon Jones

Photo courtesy of Simon Jones

We were allocated two 20 minute spots in The Square and Pride Hill which were ideal for “blooding” (or should that be sticking?) our new dancers. Large crowds gathered to watch both performances and we were delighted to find that lots of people engaged with us and came to chat before, during and after the dances. We love that!


Apart from a tumble, a wardrobe malfunction and a Mexican stand-off with a group of mediaeval re-enactors (in the nicest possible way….we took their photos and they stood down) the afternoon was terrific and we were pleased to maintain the high standard of all of the some 90 acts who performed throughout the day.

The dancing and clogging was great, the musicians as always were superb, the team-work was brilliant and our new members were absolutely fabulous! It was sad that one or two of our regular team were injured and could not take part but some joined us anyway, which was lovely and we hope they will all be back dancing with us very soon.


A great start to 2014, after which a tired but very happy Shrewsbury Morris piled into a Winnebago and headed off into the Mexican sunset….well…..all points Shrewsbury anyway…….and not a vampire in sight!

Shrewsbury Morris are sponsored by the wonderful (and local) Pipekit and Battlefield Printing Company.

BPG logoPipekit logo CMYK1

The Busk Blog

So, the new dance season is beckoning her handkerchief bound finger and our 2014 so far sees us with a brand new sponsor, (Pipekit….brilliant local company…..lovely folk… make amazing things to help industry and people…..loving them!!), brand new dancers, some new dances to perform and a whole truckload of excitement coming your way as Shrewsbury Morris get ready to kick off our programme.

This begins with us being part of the second Big Busk in Shrewsbury town centre on Sat April 5th in aid of The Shrewsbury Ark. This will be a day when Shrewsbury fills with all sorts of wonderful music (and some dancing from ours truly) which should rival last year’s event for fun, colour and diversity.

At the time of going to blog we don’t have the exact programme for the day but we will publish details on here, Twitter and FB as the event gets nearer (but don’t bet on us NOT being in Shrewsbury Square at some point!)

To publicise the day we took part in a Shropshire Star photoshoot at Music Bros in Rous Hill a week ago, organised by The Big Busk guardians Karen Higgins and Annemarie Bebbington. This turned out to be really fun as the event had to be kept secret because of all the groupies and fans who were roaming Shrewsbury, their faces glued to their mobile phone screens trying to find out where Julia and I were going to be. This proved an exhausting and extremely stressful time as we had to hide in………..OK, reality check!!…….they were possibly more likely to have been looking for young Birmingham rapper and rising star Leo Goldenchild who is also taking part in The Big Busk and whom we met at the photoshoot along with singer/songwriter Nikki Rous.

What a thoroughly nice group of people they were and we look forward to catching up with them at the event in April.

So, for a good day out, some diverse (and free) musical entertainment covering opera to ukelele bands….and of course us….come and join in The Big Busk on Saturday April 5th, help a good cause and have some fun!

Because we will…:))