Hereburgh News and Gossip

Compiled by News Hound, Peter McDonald.

Click on a news headline below:

4 August 2003 Hereburgh 'on stage' at Sidmouth
28 July 2003 Another great Warwick Folk Festival
14 July 2003 A Cotswold Pilgrimage
23 June 2003 Tour de Dance 2003
8 June 2003 A day with a mellow Dean
31 May 2003 Don't mention the passport!
16 March 2003 Country Gardens with a difference
9 March 2003 Workshop & Reward
8 January 2003New Year, new Squire...

Hereburgh 'on stage' at Sidmouth

Hereburgh at Sidmouth 2003

OK, so it wasn't the 'main stage' or even a 'big stage' but it was a stage and we were in the Sidmouth Folk Festival programme!

Sidmouth is a long way from Harbury, especially just for the day but, once again, Hereburgh managed to muster a team to dance on the Esplanade on Sunday, August 3rd. As with most of our dance-outs this year, the weather was superb, this time bordering on being too hot. Ten of us met by the York Steps at 11am and soon arranged to share a spot with Ditchling Morris, just as we did in 2001. When Ditchling took a rest, we were still raring to go so we joined up with Stone the Crows, a noisy but good-natured Border team contrasting well with Hereburgh's more conservative Cotswold style. Their band joined ours for Speed the Plough and, in return, they quickly taught us one of their dances, Tinner's Rabbit (I think). Great fun.

Then someone mentioned the word 'picnic' and we were on the beach in a flash, joining many more like-minded people enjoying the sunshine. Several of our team cooled off in the water while others wished they had brought their swimming gear. At 5pm, we met up again in the shady surroundings of the Arena Showground for our scheduled performance on the South Stage. Actually, the South Stage appeared to slope at a gradient of about 1:4 and we wondered if we would have to rope together to stay near the musicians but, on closer examination, it was perfectly level. For this prestigious performance, alternating dances with Beltane (a Border side from Stokeinteignhead, near Torquay), we chose to dance our own Windmill and Bull Ring dances plus Musketeers in a Bledington style. I think we acquitted ourselves quite well except that the hollow stage construction did rather amplify our heavy feet - perhaps the Foreman should do a session on dancing on our toes! By a strange coincidence, Beltane performed Tinner's Rabbit so we could have joined in!

Having taken our bows with Beltane, we posed for the official photograph and then rushed off to change into cooler clothes. Those of us without long journeys soaked up the delightful Sidmouth evening sunshine with a fish-and-chips picnic back on the beach before going our separate ways.

More photos of the day, courtesy of Dave Shuttleworth.

Will we ever graduate to the Sidmouth 'big stage', I wonder?

[7 August 2003]

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Another great Warwick Folk Festival

As usual, Hereburghers participated enthusiastically in our local Folk Festival. Our Morris tour on Saturday started at the Rose and Crown, alternating dances with the slim and skilful Boojum sword team, then it was down to Swan Street to meet up with the more robust Knockhundred Shuttles. After lunch, we joined the Witchmen and then Rose and Castle in Castle Street where we are becoming quite adept at dodging the bollards. Perhaps we should make up a dance which features the bollards, rather than always cursing them for being in the way?

We couldn't think of a good reason for not joining the Procession so we duly danced our way through the streets of Warwick. This year our processing was a bit tidier than on previous occasions, thanks to the Foreman's insistence that we practised regularly during the preceding weeks. We only managed one dance at our final spot on the campsite before rain stopped play but we all agreed that we had danced enough for one day.

Quite apart from the dancing, it was another great festival with some excellent music and a convivial atmosphere on the campsite. Yes, it did rain a bit and I'm sure that Steve and Maureen won't forget their Silver Wedding barbecue party, as we all 'sheltered' under three leaking gazebos, although spirits were not in the least bit dampened.

[28 July 2003]

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A Cotswold Pilgrimage

We like to visit the Cotswolds at least once a year. I suppose it's because most of our dances are in a Cotswold style (although several are not actually traditional dances) and an outing into that beautiful countryside is always a treat.

This year, our Cotswold outing was on July 12th, with beautiful weather all day. Our first stop was Bourton-on-the-Water where it appears that Morris teams are always welcome. We only have to pause, not even dance a step, for a crowd to gather, cameras at the ready. Before we danced, we gathered our thoughts in the shady garden of the coffee shop where a pigeon twice decided to make mine a lucky day. We then performed at two locations beside the river (not in it this year!) before moving on to our lunch spot, the Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood. Perhaps the Swan is losing its charm compared with visits in past years, but the village is as appealing as ever.

As we've done on several previous occasions, our visit to Ascott coincided with their annual church fête. This year, they had moved the fête from the picturesque village green to the cricket ground which provided more space, improved safety and better facilities but some of the atmosphere was undoubtedly missing. As usual, we danced (quite a few Ascott dances, of course) when the Shipston Silver Band took their rests and then we wandered around the stalls. I think most of us came home with something we didn't know we needed - perhaps a CD, a paperback, a plant or even a complete hanging basket. We wondered whether the change of venue might have changed the arrangements for our traditional reward of tea and cakes but we were not disappointed - a cream tea was waiting for us in the pavilion.

[14 July 2003]

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Tour de Dance 2003

The nickname, 'Tour de Dance', was given to our annual Cyclo-Booze by my son last year. Coincidentally, I think, this year's event on June 21st took on more of a French feeling with an innovation - a yellow 'jersey' for the leader of each stage and spotty one for 'King of the Mountains'.

Our leaders devised yet another interesting and safe route around the local lanes (how many more permutations are there, I wonder?) with a little more off-road this time. The full route was about 26 miles but there was a short-cut available to those who were not competing for 'King of the Mountains'. Our dance/coffee/boozing stops were the White Lion at Radford, the Green Man at Long Itchington and finally the Blue Lias near Stockton. By now, we expect Maureen to turn up somewhere on the route with surprise afternoon tea and cakes and there she was, right on cue, on the canal towpath near Bascote.

Thanks again, Maureen, plus everyone else involved in planning the day and organising the excellent weather.

[23 June 2003]

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A day with a mellow Dean

We had an excellent day in Portsmouth with the Dean on June 7th. David Brindley (former Hereburgh member) was to celebrate his 50th birthday in a few days time and his wife, Gill (also a former Hereburgher), had secretly arranged for a large Hereburgh team to visit for the day. And so, at 11am on the dot, on a sunny Saturday morning, fifteen of us in kit arrived at the front door of the Deanery. By that time, Gill had been forced to explain to David why she had prepared their Hereburgh kit (unused for a few months, I suspect)!

After coffee at the Deanery, we moved on to our first dancing spot, appropriately outside David's 'workplace', the splendid Cathedral, then on to our lunchtime spot at the 'Still & West' pub by the sea in the Old Town, with a good view of the work in progress on the Spinnaker Tower (Portsmouth's Millennium project!). At that point, David was presented with a special "Vicar's Ruin" beer pump label, courtesy of the Church End Brewery. It fitted his Morris stick perfectly.

Gill had organised another spot by the sea wall at Penny Street but, on our way there, we were seduced by a stretch of beach. First, the shoes and socks came off (it's always wonderful to get those socks off on a hot day!) and then a set of paddling dancers formed up and performed a very painful version of Black Joke in the sea, on the shingle. This silly moment was captured on video and still photographs (see Dave Shuttleworth's website). The weather was glorious all day and, wherever we went, there was always something interesting happening at sea.

Then it was back to the Deanery for tea and cake and to change out of Morris kit before Pimms by the sea and an excellent barbecue in the evening where we played David's birthday tune for him - 'Minuet for a Mellow Dean' (think 'squeeze-box'!).

[8 June 2003]

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Don't mention the passport!

2003 marks the 10th anniversary of Hereburgh's association with Verden, Warwick's twin town in Germany, so it seemed fitting that we should send a delegation over to celebrate. On this (4th) occasion, our dancing team was down to just seven (Pete, Doug, Janny, Steve, Maureen, Celia and Peter) but dancing wasn't the main purpose of our visit. Certainly, we did a short spot outside Verden's Horse Museum but we spent most of our time enjoying the hospitality of our hosts, being tourists and, of course, eating and drinking.

Our outward journey on Friday, May 23, went smoothly except for slight concerns about the M25 traffic on the way to Gatwick and whether or not Janny would be allowed to travel on her out-of-date passport. On both accounts, there was no need to worry (though we tried to avoid getting in the same passport control queue as Janny) and we were delighted to find a smiling reception committee waiting for us at Bremen airport, complete with bottles of bubbly. There was just time for a late meal with our host families (I think most of us had their excellent white asparagus which was just in season) before retiring to bed.

After our short dance display on Saturday afternoon in a huge open courtyard with excellent acoustics, we were ushered into a nearby cafe, Satchmo's, for coffee and cake - a treat which was to be repeated every afternoon of our stay. In the evening, we were all invited to an excellent barbecue at the house of Carola and Enno, the masterminds behind all our visits. Inevitably, Pete and Doug went for a swim and we had a late music session around the pool.

On Sunday, we all travelled by train from Verden to Uelzen, mainly to view the bizarre railway station designed by the artist Hundertwasser (with more coffee and cakes) and then on Monday, we visited Bremen's "Universum", a sort of hands-on science museum, followed by more coffee and cakes in the beautiful Rhododendron Park. That evening we were entertained by Elfriede and Erwin, starting with drinks in the evening sunshine and then moving downstairs for some serious food in their enormous basement.

We realised that our German hosts were working to a detailed plan to organise our welfare for the three packed days. Food and drink were transported from here to there in such an efficient manner that we were thoroughly spoilt and entertained in fine style. All too soon it was time to return to Bremen airport and to see if Janny could come home with us (she didn't seem bothered by the possibility of staying!). Fortunately, our return journey went without a hitch, although it nearly went without a couple of important items of paperwork, found in the nick of time in the Herren and Damen!

A big thank you to all our hosts, the customs officers and British Airways.

[31 May 2003]

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Country Gardens with a difference

You had to be there to appreciate it... at Avril's 50th birthday party last Saturday (March 15th). Douglas had secretly organised a 'gardens and gardening' theme for the evening and most people turned up suitably dressed or adorned. Green bin-bags were very popular and had been fashioned into all sorts of interesting garments. Smocks were also in evidence - but looked better on some than others.

Once a garden had been constructed in a corner of the church hall, someone suggested a Morris dance - Country Gardens, of course. The six who volunteered were a motley bunch, including a butterfly, some wellies, a bin-bag apron and Janny in Dutch clogs. The only musical instrument to hand was a rather precious harpsichord but the owner kindly agreed to let us use it, so I had the considerable pleasure of playing it (and now I'd like one of my own, please) while the six apparitions lurched through the dance - quite surreal! I hope someone took a photograph. Oh, by the way, you can't do Ascott galleys in clogs.

[16 March 2003]

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Workshop & Reward

Our annual workshop on March 8th was a little different this year - in the School instead of the Village Hall, a long afternoon session instead of morning and afternoon, no guest teacher, no new traditions to cope with and no lunchtime lecture. We resourced the teaching ourselves and split the afternoon into four sessions on Trunkles (Bledington), Castle Ring (Lichfield), General Ludd (Berkeley) and incomplete sets.  I suppose, strictly speaking, General Ludd was really a new tradition being a dance that Lynne had brought 'home' from Berkeley Morris in California. It's going to need a lot more work!

After all that effort, we deserved a relaxing evening and Kerry had booked us in at the Delhi Palace in Leamington, where twenty of us enjoyed a tasty meal. An excellent day, but will we ever see the return of the annual Hereburgh lecture?

[9 March 2003]

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New Year, new Squire...

This report from our Foreman, Pete Johnson:

Hereburgh's Hangover Tour on New Year's Day started rather differently from usual this year. Well, there was the weather for a start - we are used to a fine, if crisp and cold day, but the Squire had organised torrential rain. For this reason, and the fact that he really wasn't up to it after his previous evening's activities (actually quite a good party!), it was decided to depose him and appoint a new squire. Our prodigal visitor, David Brindley was duly appointed and decided as his first act that we would collect for International Red Cross.

We danced in the rain outside the Crown and in the puddles near the Churchyard and decided that indoors would be more appropriate at the Dog. We skipped the Gamecock; Celia did a jig in the Shakespeare and we were flagged down for a performance in Mill Street, by which time David had arranged for the rain to stop. Extra drinks there, and a stop at Maureen and Steve's for hot toddy meant that there wasn't much enthusiasm for a walk to the Old New Inn, so we repaired to Sue and Ian's for the traditional soup kitchen.

Since David and Gill were going back to Portsmouth, we conceded that we'd have to resort to our previous Squire and presented David with a Leadership Award for his contribution as Squire of Hereburgh Morris (thus fulfilling one of his ambitions).

[8 January 2003]

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