Author Archives: Jim Hague

Hogacre Wassail

If you have an apple orchard, and especially if you’re hoping to get some cider from it, then one tactic to ensuring a good harvest is to Wassail it. Briefly, this consists of alternately bribing the trees with gifts of toast dipped in cider, and frightening evil spirits with noise and ructions.

Over at Hogacre, we’ve been assisting doggedly wassailing their orchard for some years. As far as I know, none of the trees have yet to produce fruit. Obviously without our efforts things would be in an even more parlous state.

As usual, this year we did a few dances while the crowd waited for darkness to arrive.

Keeping near the fire
Keeping near the fire
Constant Billy
Constant Billy

Then in the gloaming we head over to the smallest tree in the orchard, where master of ceremonies Tim Healy explains wassailing and related customs, and leads the crowd in singing and noise.

Tim Healy explains
Tim Healy explains

Boxing Day at the Seacourt

As ever,. we marked the festive season with a little dance out on Boxing Day.

Amongst the spectators were our old members Ben and Emma. Who proved they could remember a dance or two – if pushed.

Constant Billy and some old friends
Constant Billy and some old friends

We did dance for quite a while, but we’ll spare you a picture of everything. Enjoy!

Postman's Knock
Postman’s Knock
Getting vandalling...
Getting vandalling…

Wootton Fete

(More in a late catchup of events your humble script missed.)

Wooton does itself well with its annual fĂȘte. We’ve been lucky enough to be asked to dance there several times, and it’s always a fun day out.

What's this dance?
What’s this dance?
Oh, it's Sidesteps
Oh, it’s Sidesteps.
More Sidesteps
More Sidesteps
Steve and Audrey on guitar and piano accordion
Steve and Audrey on guitar and piano accordion

White Horse Folk Festival

(And another late catchup on an event your scribe missed.)

The White Horse Folk Festival is a small festival in late summer. It starts with those Morris sides that can make it dancing on top of the venerable White Horse itself.

The weather was a little unpromising, but I think I recognise Icknield Way, Cornucopia and the Garston Gallopers amongst the fray.

Heading up the hill
Heading up the hill

A few pictures from the top of the hill.

After all the fun of the top of the hill, a little lunchtime dance somewhere more sheltered.

On the flat again
On the flat again
Constant Billy
Constant Billy

Seacourt – no, Prince of Wales

(First in a series of late reports on events your humble scribe missed).

We were supposed to be having a quiet evening dance out by ourselves at the Seacourt, but the dreaded Covid struck. Luckily, the Prince of Wales at Shippon could host us at short notice.

I must say, it does look sunny.

… and show

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