Author Archives: Jim Hague


At the Plough, late on in June

The Plough at Long Whittenham is another of our regular summer stops, and it was great to be back in their garden. There were a goodly number of locals there, enjoying a warm late July evening. Unusually, not many of them ran away the minute we got going.

About to Constant Billy
About to Constant Billy

We’d been hoping some of Towersey Morris might also turn up, but in the event we were undisturbed.


We did our usual thing – some dances followed by some tunes and songs as night fell.


In truth, we remain a bit rusty and unpractised. But after the last 18 months, we’ll settle for being rusty and unpractised but out dancing again.

Icknield. And some mugs.

An evening at the Fox with Icknield Way

In those long-forgotten ‘normal’ times, we made an annual visit to the Fox at Denchworth as guests of Icknield Way. Perhaps the world is slowly getting back to rights again.

It was a warm evening, and the garden was packed with diners. Ah-ha! A captive audience.

Balance the Straw. Dancers excused waistcoats.
Balance the Straw. Dancers excused waistcoats.

Icknield had brought alone their youth division. I believe it was their first public appearance. They did very well.

Icknield's Youth Programme in action.
Icknield’s Youth Programme in action.

As ever, we finished the evening with some tunes while the light faded. What can I say? It’s nice to be back.

Summer evening at the Eight Bells in Eaton

No, we don’t restrict our outside-Botley dance outs to pubs named ‘The N Bells’. Really.

The Eight Bells at Eaton is an old favourite of ours, and while they were still restricted to largely outside activity, the weather was up to allowing us to mildly disturb those enjoying a summer evening with food and drink.

A rest between dances.
Taking a breather.

We also took a good look at the pub sign. It’s relatively new, and painted by our very own BarberaP. It looked quite magnificent in the evening light. She’s also restored the predecessor sign on which it’s based, which now hangs inside the pub.

Balance the Straw.
Balance the Straw.

We weren’t overflowing with dancers, and were interrupted by the arrival of spring rolls and chips that required attention, but as a way of losing a bit more of our dance rust, it was very just what we needed.

Highland Mary finishes
Wait, was that Highand Mary?

The Six Bells, Warborough

A summer evening at the Six Bells

July dawns, and with it a summer evening with our old chums Old Speckled Hen. They were feeling short of match practice, so just came to watch.

It was one of those evenings rare in an English summer, where it was not only warm but the half-promise of some rain did not materialise.

Finishing our first dance
Barbara giving her hankies a bit of extra air.

Our new recruit, Josh, has only had a limited opportunity to practice. But by heck, he’s learned quickly – and looks the part, too.

Josh, our new dancer
Our new dancer

With the help of a dancer borrowed on the spot from Headington Quarry, we danced into the dusk, and finally managed to entice the assembled Hens into an impromptu dance.

Old Speckled Hen in disguise
Old Speckled Hen in disguise.

When we’d all finished with a mass Bonny Green, time for tunes and songs as the sun set. Oh, summer dance outs. We’ve missed you.

Steve and Audrey sing in the gloaming
Steve and Audrey sing in the gloaming.
Look! Over there!

We’re rusty, but we’re back!

Back at the start of March 2020, we gaily said we’re be taking a short break but we’d see you later in the year. Well, that went to plan, didn’t it?

And now, here we are, with half 2021 never to return. But we’re finally out in public again, with a short summer programme, starting this week at our old haunt, the Seacourt Bridge in Botley.

Constant Billy and a bus.
Constant Billy and a bus.

We have had a little practice, but we are a bit rusty. Spectators (who were mercifully few) are, in fact, liable to to get showered in iron oxide.

Can we remember Vandals?

Also mercifully, the weather was kind. And we remember more that I think we feared we might.

Concentrating on Vandals.
Hucklebacks. Concentrate, now.
Lads A Bunchum sticking
Remembering the sticking in Lads A Bunchum

As per usual, once we’d finished dancing, a little quiet music session.

Steve does an evening number

A Virtual May Morning

For obvious reasons the usual Oxford May Morning festivities didn’t happen. Except they did – they moved on line.

We’ll post a longer description of what happened another time. But, thanks to a great idea and much hard work from Kate, we did contribute to the festivities. Here’s our bit!


Our regular start to the year – joining in Wassailing the orchard at Hogacre Common.

Wassailing trees in an orchard is an old tradition which is sometimes described as singing the health of trees to encourage them to be productive. Cider is traditionally poured on the roots of a selected tree, and toast hung from its branches. The process, though, does involve making a awful lot of noise to frighten away any evil spirits that may be in the vicinity. In extreme cases, though not at Hogacre, this can include discharging muskets through the branches. Sometimes, indeed, it’s easy to think the ceremony is not so much encouraging trees as threatening them.

We kicked off proceedings with a half hour dance spot outside the pavilion. No spare hands for photographing, though, so you only get to see the scene after dancing as the night drew in.


After dancing as dusk falls.

After spell in the pavilion enjoying the music of local early music band Skeleton Crew, it was outside to the orchard to make some noise.

Skeleton Crew

In the Pavilion – Skeleton Crew.




Boxing Day

Another well-established date in the Havoc calendar is a Boxing Day danceout at the Seacourt. Usually we dance outside, but the weather this year was, well, a bit mucky.

So we retreated inside. Space was a little limited.

Hankies fly

Hankies fly in a confined space.

All up

All Up!

Now, is there ceiling clearance for sticks?


Rather crowded here. What happens if we try sticks?

Only just was the answer.

We do have one dance, Shave the Donkey, that requires a lot of space for much leaping about? Could we do it inside with no casualties?

Shave the Donkey

Doing Shave The Donkey with no room is very silly. Looks like we made it to the end.

Yes, but you can see the relief.

We danced for about 40 minutes, and then settled down to lunch and some music.


Kazoo time. What are these two doing?

All right, that’s enough mucking about.


Let’s get some music in.


Mick and his fearsome weapon.


A whistle and a nyckelharper.


One of Santa’s Little Helpers, and hat.

A Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to all.

Presenting our charity fund for 2019 to Botley Bridges

During the course of the Morris dance-out season, we rattle buckets under the noses of unsuspecting passers-by, collecting for our charity of the year.


Presenting our cheque to Botley Bridges.

This year the charity was Botley Bridges, a cause very close to our hearts and right in the centre of our home patch. We were very happy to be able to present them with a cheque for £1000. This will fund their Saturdads group for a year, so appropriately we presented it to them during a Saturdads session. We did a few dances for the dads and children, and made them join in a dance with us too.

They, and we, got a write-up in the local paper. You can read their report and see the picture here.

Back to Swanage

For the last couple of years, a select subset of Havocs have gone for a final season outing at the Swanage Folk Festival.

Swanage, of course, is by the sea.

Pete tests the waters

Pete tests the waters…


Only a knotted hankie short of a full Gumby.

We danced at a few locations around the town, but being a bit shorthanded didnt have a spare photographer. So youll have to make do with some pictures from the parade. We’ve done the parade in previous years, but decided to spectate this year.


The parade…


… more parade,


… and still they come.