Revs, Rain and Rants

In the midst of a record-breaking month for hot weather here in the UK, there is always room for one, predictable, thoroughly wet and rainy day.

So it was on Sunday 24th July 2022 when Shrewsbury Morris turned up at the delightful Abbey Station in Shrewsbury, opposite Shrewsbury Abbey, to dance for the Motorcycling Heritage Exhibition and Meet. We didn’t quite know what to expect but as the smell of engine oil, exhausts and motorbike fumes mixed with the aroma of burgers and coffee we could tell we were amongst friends!

It was but a short, 30 minute dance spot with a small team but sometimes less is more and our dancers did really well, dancing in a smallish area against a colourful and sometimes noisy backdrop of biking enthusiasts.

An endless supply of tea and coffee was a great help and………as per usual with Shrewsbury Morris…….the rain stopped, just as the first musical notes issued forth from Rays’ melodeon!

A mini dance break ensued after this event as many of the team made their way to Sidmouth Folk Festival.  Thanks to Amanda Mullins and her biker crew for inviting us and keeping us supplied with much needed fluids.

The Queen’s Baton Relay – 18th July, 2022


All three came together on the hottest day of the year, Monday 18th July in Quarry Park, Shrewsbury as Shrewsbury Morris Dancers fulfilled a commitment to support the passing of The Queen’s Baton Relay for the Commonwealth Games through the Town of Shrewsbury.

Careful planning and not a little hanging around in the heat over a long period by the Giant-builders saw Septimus the Cobbler put together in all his glory by the late afternoon as other team members arrived by the Hercules statue on a VERY warm night.

Thankfully there was a lot of shade from the trees as the team commenced their mixed dance programme. Enthusiastic, but carefully measured, dancing saw no casualties and a very well performed series from our repertoire.

After a short wait (and some pretty nifty flag putting together in between) the baton was seen progressing down The Severn by boat and the baton parade began to perform by the river landing stage. Thanks to our super musicians there was a very musical element to the parade as it wended its way through The Quarry, the baton carried proudly by people chosen for having performed good community/charity work.

Richard (expert giant carrier) was carefully inserted into Septimus and joined the parade where the team had danced, before leading it up to the Quarry gates and down across the park paths until it reached the Main Stage where the baton was fixed into position and numerous stories of good works were heard by the very substantial crowd that had gathered.

All in all, a really lovely evening of dance, fun, cooperation, music and community togetherness……and all in the middle of a record heatwave.

Well done Ray and Bev, well done Richard and well done Shrewsbury Morris Dancers!

Sunday 17th July, 2022 – Severn Hospice Open Gardens Event

A heatwave and Covid were the would-be foilers of this lovely Shrewsbury event but, as usual, Shrewsbury Morris Dancers turned up trumps yet again, putting on a fine display of mixed dancing and clogging in the sun.

Severn Hospice had clearly gone to great lengths to put on a super event which ranged all over the estate and gardens with lots of visitors braving the heat to help raise money.

All the dancers came prepared with water, hats and sunscreen whilst ensuring sensible rest periods were the order of the day.

The music was super, the dancing enthusiastic (and good) and the idea of dancing right next to an ice cream van was a stroke of genius!

This was to be the first of a busy two days for us……as the next blog will show.

Beat and Bells – Saturday 2nd July 2022

A glance out of the window at around 6am on the morning of Beat and Bells 2022 did not bode well for the day ahead – far more moisture evident than required!  However, as we all know, the sun always shines on Shrewsbury Morris and we were not to be disappointed.

The festivities commenced at 10am with the parade of Septimus, the Giant Shrewsbury Cobbler with his flagbearers and attendants, accompanied by the massed ranks of Shrewsbury Morris performing his welcome dance, much to the delight of the gathering audience.

There followed the first of several wonderfully raucous and interactive demonstrations of Border Morris Dancing by our friends from Flintshire in North Wales, Clerical Error Morris Dancers (Y Clerigwyr).  Their stunning costumes and vociferous dancing style certainly attracted much attention throughout the day.

The programme continued with dancing spots featuring Shrewsbury Clog, Shrewsbury Lasses and Shrewsbury Bull & Pump Morris Dancers, demonstrating the broad variety of their respective repertoires, with the addition of the suite of mixed ‘socially distanced dances’ specially created during the Covid lockdown periods.

We were also delighted to welcome Thingumajig Theatre from Todmorden, West Yorkshire, who appealed to children and grown-ups alike with their interactive Dodos, Charles and Amelia, and who popped up throughout the day to see what was going on.

It is fair to state that all who took part thoroughly enjoyed themselves and contributed to a fabulously memorable day – and thanks once again to the weather gods for smiling on us. May we also take this opportunity to thank all those who stopped by to watch and support us during the day and also for the funds generously popped into our collecting tins?  See you all again next year!

Ditton Priors – Dancing and Dog Shows

It was a beautiful sunny day when we all pitched up to dance at Oak Farm for Oakfest 2022.                                            

Oak Farm, in the picturesque village of Ditton Priors, is a working farm run by Shropshire Council.  It is a day service for adults with learning disabilities who live in South Shropshire.  People who use the service travel from Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Church Stretton and the surrounding areas.

A 12 hectare (30 acres) smallholding, run on organic principles, producing high quality vegetables and fruit, some of which is made into jams and chutneys on site, Oak Farm also has livestock including sheep, pigs, alpacas, rabbits and a pony, as well as a flock of 150 free-range laying hens.  

Oak Farm sells its fruit, vegetables, eggs and preserves from its own farm shop, and through other local outlets and also provides training and work experience in horticulture and agriculture for people who may move on to permanent employment, and a supportive placement for others who, because of their disability, are unlikely to seek mainstream work.  

It was a delightful, friendly and rural setting to dance in. We had our own barn area cordoned off and, although it had its own interesting foibles (what dance area doesn’t?), the team managed splendidly and danced two 30 minute spots under the watchful eyes of two very pleasant PCSOs from West Mercia Police Force.  A really delightful English afternoon, with time to take in alpacas, the very well-entered dog show, ice cream, live music, and much more.

We even had the pleasure of the rarified company of local Twitter, YouTube and Insta legend Jimmy the Mower! 

Who says you can’t have everything?

Well done as always Shrewsbury Morris!

Annscroft Garden Party

Glorious sunshine greeted us on Saturday 14th May 2022 and it was, secretly, quite nice to be dancing a little closer to home, as we made our way to the Annscroft Garden Party, being held just outside Shrewsbury. Despite some false alarms, some accidental parking in the wrong fields and an eventual warm walk from the designated parking area, we were made most welcome by the organisers at their lovely house.

Fortunately our two dancing spots were short in the very hot weather, which allowed for some rehydration, chat and some lovely time spent looking round the stalls and the beautiful garden of our host.

All proceeds were going to Christian Aid and we were delighted, along with an enthusiastic ukulele band and lots of lovely visitors, to have helped in the raising of a very solid £1,282.26p.

A kind, appreciative audience and a slightly sloping space made for an interesting and happy afternoon, both teams relaxed and dancing well. Bull & Pump sang again (that’s taken a while!) and the Lasses and the band (to have lots of musicians is always a great sight and sound) were well and truly on form. A relaxed, fun and happy day dancing in the May sunshine for a good cause…….what could be better? 

Perton Carnival

Although we were all in bed on May Day whilst some brave souls were dancing in the early morning cold and dew, Shrewsbury Morris saw May in with an afternoon at Perton Carnival on Monday the 2nd.

Slightly left of Wolverhampton, Perton is a village with a real community feel and that was reflected in the large and friendly crowd as we arrived. The Wolverhampton Wanderers fans amongst us (well, Graydon and Ed) felt at home with all the gold shirts around and our team started with a large, enthusiastic and curious audience watching and who seemed to really enjoy our first 30 minute spot (of three).

We had taken another pretty big team with us and everyone had a good outing in terms of numbers of dances, our programme being another mixture of mixed dances and the usual specialised ones split between the Shrewsbury Lasses, Shrewsbury Clog and Bull and Pump Morris Men.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Perton-4a-1024x461.jpg

We were well looked after in our allocated spot and, although the crowd ebbed and flowed a good number stayed with us throughout the afternoon which was nice.

We were also able to please a lovely lady called Kitty who was delighted by our dancing and who asked if she could have a photo of our melodeon players. An old friend of hers (Eric, who is now 92) was a melodeon player himself. Ray, Margaret and Barbara kindly obliged, which really seemed to make her day.  Shrewsbury Morris at your service!

The cobwebs are being shaken loose from our long Covid and winter break and we look forward to sunshine and fair weather now that we’re getting further into our 2022 Dance Programme.

Dancing, Damsels and Dragons

For our second public dance out of 2022, on Saturday 23rd April, Shrewsbury Morris Dancers were invited back to the lovely market town of Newport, Shropshire to celebrate the day that all self respecting Patron Saints enjoy…St Georges Day.

We took a big team back to one of our most loved towns, following the fun we had at the Food Frenzy in 2021, (which, incidentally we’re doing again this year!) and were immediately struck by the fun, friendly atmosphere.

Our first spot was outside a very popular coffee shop, (always a good position for us!) and we started with some of our favourite dances, right next to a Punch and Judy Booth which was later surrounded by laughing children…laughing at Mr Punch, not us, thankfully.

After narrowly avoiding a falling model of St George and watched closely by a very prominent dragon skull we had a good first dance spot, before a quick change in the programme (not unusual) saw the team forming up further down the High Street with a varied assembly of participants and then processing back up to the town centre (our banner displayed very prominently) where none other than St George himself, assisted by some suspiciously tiny mini Georges, fought with, and defeated, the ominous and very green Dragon…..who was assisted by some equally suspiciously tiny mini dragons!

Very Green, Ominous Dragon

The damsel, previously imprisoned by the Dragon, right in the middle of the roundabout was thus rescued from her captor (and the cold, one assumes) and they all proceeded to mix with a large and very family-oriented crowd before we began our second dance spot, the dragons apparently having been marched off to be turned into dragon sausages.

Victorious St George

Our mixed dances, honed in post-Covid practice conditions, proved very popular at this spot and were well received. 

Overall, our performances on the day led to our kindly being described by the organisers as “exceptional”.

Next stop is Todmorden Folk Festival on Saturday 30th April followed by Perton Carnival on Monday 2nd May.

“You dancing?”, “You asking?”, “I’m asking!”, “I’m dancing!”

….and so it was that Shrewsbury Morris Dancers took up the mantra of the famous TV series and, along with 36 other Morris teams (or sides), became Liver Birds and Boys for a day as we attended the Joint Morris Organisation Day of Dance in Liverpool, the self styled world capital of Pop.

It didn’t really start off with a “Pop” though because IT WAS COLD! Having stepped out of the warmth of the Boulton’s coach that got us there and with registering in the City Library, a great deal of furious warming up was necessary before The Shrewsbury Lasses finally got us underway in the lovely surroundings of St John’s Gardens.

So began a busy and fun day of dance which saw us perform in a total of six separate City Centre locations, along with a mixture of super and different Morris sides, all vying for attention along with the great, the good and the very smartly (and interestingly) dressed Aintree crowd and, later, the Hen Party crowd! The Shrewsbury Bull and Pump Morris Men should really memorialise the day by inventing a new dance and entitling it Peaky Blinders!

We all had fun, despite the occasional pitch (or set) invasion by the odd bystander and everyone danced extremely well (we were even on time at each spot……..which caused Bev not a little consternation….or was it confusion?)

Despite some sad personnel omissions due to Covid (we hope you’re all getting better), the team pulled together really well and the musicians kept everything on track all day…..well done as always Ray! 

It was a very tired but happy little group that arrived back in Shropshire at the end of a long Liverpudlian day.

As the Liver Birds might say…….”If you’re standing on the corner, all alone and feeling low, Shrewsbury Morris will come and grab you, dancing ee I ad ee o!