2 May 2011 - Whitstable

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Oyster Women
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May Day Bank Holiday Monday is a popular day for morris outings and Oyster Morris's day in Whitstable is one of the best. It is always excellently planned, even down to the weather, so we were delighted to be asked to participate again this year.

As usual, we assembled outside the library with the other sides that were taking part, namely

The sides took turns to perform and it was particularly interesting to see Creekside Cloggers in action as they do Appalachian clog dancing. This added to the variety of styles on show and was greatly appreciated by the crowd. Kettle Bridge gave their usual polished performances of Annie's and Aughton.

At the appointed time, all the sides lined up for the procession to Horsebridge. Although the weather was sunny, we now appreciated just how windy it was. The dancers and musicians made their way through the town with a substantial crowd lining the streets. On arrival at Horsebridge, the procession continued onto the sea wall but Kettle Bridge wisely declined to join in this perilous expedition based on painful experiences in former years.

Oyster then enjoyed a side-splitting moment --- no they hadn't just heard one of Pip's jokes. They just split the morris sides into two groups, with one stand outside Zizzi's and the other by the waterside. This had the advantage of giving all the sides more opportunity to dance but rather squeezed lunch time, an essential part of our day.

Kettle Bridge were allocated to the seafront stand which was a very pleasant spot, if a little cramped. The dancers had to hold onto their hats as they were rather suffering from wind, even to the point of one blowing off (a hat, I mean, of course). There was just time to perform Prescot before it was time to line up for the next leg of the procession, which was led by Jack in the Green, accompanied by Robin Hood and Maid Marian.

Don volunteered to parade the banner ahead of Kettle Bridge and luckily he brought along some invaluable help otherwise he would probably have taken off in the wind which by now had picked up considerably. Eventually we arrived at the harbour for another short stand where we performed Ealuscerwen with the dancers courageously battling the conditions. However, so many hats were flying off that it was decided not to attempt a second dance.

The final leg of the procession was from the harbour to the beautifully restored Whitstable Castle (which was incidentally originally called Tankerton Towers). The last section was a testing uphill stretch but the dancers rose to the occasion. Then we all assembled in the grounds of the Castle for the traditional singing of the May Day song.

All that remained was for Kettle Bridge to make their way to the adjacent tea garden for a well deserved cuppa and cake. Well done to everyone, especially the band who suffered from the wind just as much as the dancers.


For more pictures of the day, click on the following links.