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We met up in brilliant sunshine at the Whitstable Brewery which intriguingly is not actually in Whitstable but near Grafty Green. The brewery itself is a converted dairy shed and the guided tour gave us a fascinating insight into the brewing process. We learnt about hops and the fermenting process but the undoubted highlight of the tour was the opportunity to taste the end product.
Eventually, we made our way to the performing area just outside the brewery building. Once there, Oyster women, Oyster men and Kettle Bridge took turns to dance. There seemed to be no after effects from the sampling session and even the band seemed as sober as ever(!). Our first dance proved conclusively that the foreman and squire definitely can organise a Prescot in a brewery. This was followed by performances of Aughton, Colne, Churchtown (with the usual audience participation) and Annie's.
The manager of the brewery was pursuaded to join in with one of Oyster's dances and he showed that wellington boots are no hinderance to performing Cotswold morris gracefully. He seemed to master the hops with no problem, managed to keep his bottle and there were no boos to be heard at all. He should definitely be invited to the next ale.
Then it was time to pile into the cars and make our way to the lunchtime stand at The White Horse at Sandway. This turned out to be the home turf of the celebrated Seven Champions Molly Dancers who were with us at last year's Federation AGM and with whom we will be dancing in July. Not only that, but the pub featured Whitstable Brewery beers on tap.
All three sides put in spirited performances for the small crowd which included some bemused bikers who had stopped off for refreshment. Kettle Bridge danced Annie's, Blackrod and Horbury. The pub then provided a superb spread for lunch - very tasty and plenty of it. Full marks from the discerning Kettle Bridge side!
There was then just time for the assembled musicians to have an impromptu performance of their favourite music before it was time to move on to the final stand at the Bowl Inn at Stalisfield, one of our favourite locations.
The day happened to coincide with a significant birthday for Elaine from Oyster and the occasion was marked by a presentation of gifts from Oyster and Kettle Bridge. Then it was on with the dancing with Kettle Bridge performing Aughton, Churchtown, Colne and Cossington. And what better way to bring the day to a close than by enjoying the wonderful birthday tea laid on by Elaine.
This capped a wonderful day, blessed with excellent weather. As usual, the band played (and behaved) impeccably and special mention must be made of Christine who was dancing out for the very first time. She coped really well with all the pressures of performing in public and didn't put a foot wrong all day. Very well done indeed! You should be very proud of yourself.
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