12 October 2013 - Lewes Folk Festival

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Brighton Morris Men did go to Specsavers
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October can always be a bit dodgy when it comes to the weather but the sun was shining on Lewes for this year's folk festival.

Thankfully Lewes is an excellent place for dancing as it has a large pedestrianised area with wide thoroughfares. This means that there is plenty of room for both performers and shoppers alike.

Our first spot at 11 a.m. was at the Cliffe Precinct where we shared the stand with Datchet Border Morris, Brighton Morris Men and our friends from Ditchling Morris. Free pizza appeared from a nearby stall and this was a very welcome boost to get the dancers going. There was time for just 3 dances from each side and Kettle Bridge performed Prescot, KBC Processional and Shawforth.

The organisers of the festival had sensibly arranged for a lunch break for all the teams with half resting from noon to one and the rest from one to two. As we were "first sitting" and our one o'clock stand was at the John Harvey Tavern, many of us made our way to the pub for lunch. Although pretty busy, the service in the pub was very good and the food excellent. The area of the pub I was in seemed to have a couple of life size grotesque papier-mâché figures which at first glance I took to be members of the band but which turned out to be connected to the famous annual Lewes Bonfire.

Suitably refreshed, we made our way out into the road outside the pub for the next session. As half the sides were having lunch, we shared this stand with only one other side, namely Chelmsford Morris. Here we danced Milnrow, Marston, Aughton and Colne. The small but enthusiastic crowd contained members of other lunching sides including the inimitable Seven Champions Molly Dancers.

It was a short walk to the next stand, The Dorset, which is in Malling Street. This reminds me of the anomaly that South Malling is virtually part of Lewes but West and East Malling are much closer to home, to the west of Maidstone.

Again, the pub proved to be an excellent dancing venue with a large paved area to the front. For this stand, we danced with Brighton again, Knots of May and Oyster Girls Morris.

Interesting fact number 1 - Even morris dancing has succumbed to the modern trend of off-shoring, with Oyster Girls coming from the Isle of Wight.

Interesting fact number 2 - According to the Knots of May web site, the children’s game “Here we go gathering nuts of May” is a perversion of “Here we go gathering knots of May,” referring to the old custom of gathering knots of flowers on May-day. This is where they get their name from.

Interesting fact number 3 - Knots of May have had a Harveys beer named after them. Kettle Bridge can match that, of course, having had a potato snack named in their honour. Mind you, you would think that they would have spelt it correctly and not left the "B" off.

Back to the dancing. Here we performed Ealuscerwen, St. Helens and Shawforth. Click here to see a video of the Shawforth performance.

Then it was on to the final stand which was a short walk across town to Waitrose, where we were accompanied by Datchet and Ditchling again (which sounds to me like a firm of estate agents). Everyone was beginning to feel rather weary by now but the dancers made a big effort to put on a good show, featuring Ealuscerwen, Annie's and Churchtown.

That brought an end to the day's proceedings and it was time to make our way home. Thanks go to the organisers of the festival for an excellent job, the band for keeping the dancers in time and all the friends and family who came along to support. Talking of which, Tim happened to find himself in the background of several of the photos I took. If you want to play "Where's Tim", look at the photos and try to spot him in his red top and black trousers. I counted five.


Footnote :
Both our long-standing (and long-suffering!) foreman Val and squire Tricia have stood down from their respective posts after many years and this was their last outing "in post". They have both contributed so much to the development of Kettle Bridge and to maintaining the consistently high level of performance of the side. They will both still be dancing so it won't be a quiet retirement! A very large debt of gratitude is due to both of them, so I would like to say "Thank You" on everyone's behalf. Truly, the end of an era.