Author Archives: Jim Hague

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!

Wassail!

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.

Dusk

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.

Wassail

Wassail!

Wassail!

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?

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

Kazoo time. What are these two doing?

All right, that’s enough mucking about.

Music

Let’s get some music in.

Mick

Mick and his fearsome weapon.

Whistle

A whistle and a nyckelharper.

Hat

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.

Presentation

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…

Gumby

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.

Parade

The parade…

Parade

… more parade,

Parade

… and still they come.

Bunkfest 2019

Wallingford Bunkfest is often our last local dance-out of the season. It’s always a fun day out.

As usual we danced at several locations around the town and the festival ground. We started the day on the early shift in front of the main stage.

Main stage

In front of the main stage.

Sticking

Pete and Mick concentrate.

Musicians and main stage

Havoc musicians in front of the main stage.

Poor Nigel had had a recent close encounter with a surgeon, and was out of action, but turned out to lend support.

Nigel and stick

Is that stick to walk with, or to belabour bad dancers?

After which it was off to the Boathouse and the back to the Dance Stage on the Kinecroft before lunch.

In the festival Dance Stage.

.. and the lines are looking straight for once.

A fair morning’s work. After that we got a few hours break before finishing the day outside the Dolphin.

On top of the White Horse

The White Horse Folk Festival is a small festival based around Grove that usually happens somewhere in mid August. We’ve taking part in it in previous years. This year, though, there weren’t enough of us to join in for the full day.

But the weekend was also marking the 60th birthday of those stalwarts of the Vale of the White Horse, the Icknield Way Morris Men. We did, at least, manage to join them and some other guests near the top of Dragon Hill, just above the White Horse, to start the day with a dance or two in a great location.

The weather, alas, was not quite as kind as it could have been.

Icknield Way at 60.

We did one dance in rain and wind. But things cleared up a bit.

A view over the Vale.

Some of the the other sides.

Garston Gallopers.

Owlswick. Some of them.

Look carefully at the next picture.

A view to the east.

You can just make out the hyperbolic cooling towers from Didcot A Power Station. They were demolished the following morning. The view over southern Oxfordshire will never be quite the same.

A weekend festival and workshop

An new event for us this year. The good folk who organise Willowbrook Farm Festival got in touch, and booked us to not only perform but to give a dance workshop too.

None of us had ever been to this festival before. It’s a small family-oriented affair on a rather unusual farm just a little way outside Kidlington. We had to wait for the birds of prey demonstration to finish and people to get some lunch, but we had a fair selection of curious spectators for our first dance set.

Stick out at the Willowbrook Farm Festival

So we took full advantage and made them work too!

Shepherds Hey

Shepherds Hey – for all sizes and ages.

After a quick lunch ourselves, it was time for our workshop. After thinking we might get 1 or 2 people, we found outselves with at least 12, which required all Havocs to the pump. So, unfortunately, there was nobody spare to take pictures. We may get hold of some at some point, in which case I’ll add them here.

After the workshop, a second dance spot. This time we were a little overshadowed by a bloke with some snakes. So once we’d finished, time to see what the fuss was about.

Pete and a snake. Emma doesn’t look overly impressed.

It was a nice event. We’ll be hoping to be back there again.

Back at the Seacourt

Generally speaking, we tend of wind down a bit in August. People will insist on going on holiday and being generally unobtainable. So, Thursday was the last of our regular Thursday evening dance-outs, and we went back to our winter home, the Seacourt Bridge in Botley, for a special evening. Our very own Isobel was celebrating one of those birthdays with a nought in it.

So, definitely time for a dance.

Constant Billy – ready for the off.

Constant Billy – on the move.

And we welcomed a special guest musician.

Tilda shows us how to shake.

It was a warm evening. Squire permitted removal of waistcoats.

Hankies flying in the heat.

There was a spectacular cake.

The cake.

The birthday girl cuts the cake.

And, after dancing and cake, tunes and songs outside. Our summer is by no means over, but what a great way to finish the regular season.

Havoc on the cards

An enterprising Morris dancer called Owain (there’s a limerick in there somewhere) has produced a Morris card game, Top Trunkles.

We were sufficiently on the ball when the call for sides came out. And here we are!

Top Trunkles