12 July 2015 - Tonbridge

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Peter responds to Sally's encouragement to switch to vegetarianism.
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Hartley Morris Men (notably Brian Tasker) organised a Regional Joint Morris Organisations Day of Dance at Tonbridge. This was an opportunity to promote all three morris groups, namely the Morris Federation, the Morris Ring and Open Morris and a good excuse for a dance out with friends old and new.

The weather was a bit cooler than yesterday at Canterbury and there was a bit of moisture in the air as we arrived in Tonbridge. Breakfast was available at the Tonbridge Farmers' Market or the Humphrey Bean (in the High Street). Incidentally, the Humphrey Bean Wetherspoons pub is named after the landlord of the 'We Three Loggerheads' pub that used to stand on that site.

Having stoked up with calories, we assembled at the Farmers' Market which was the location of our first stand. Here we discovered that unfortunately Eva was unwell so a hurried rescheduling of dances had to be undertaken by the squire and foreman. As usual, they coped admirably.

Our companions for the first stand were Plymouth Morris Men, a Cotswold side that have a long tradition of dancing, with the current incarnation having been formed in 1970. One particularly striking dance they performed involved the use of real steel cutlasses which made a fantastic noise as they clashed.

Kettle Bridge performed Prescot and Saint Helens Gala, followed by a Churchtown which the audience could join in with. This proved very popular including participation by a couple of young wrestlers and Trevor (substituting for Eva). I think they all enjoyed it!

To get to our second stand, it was a short walk through the town to the Watergate. By this time, the drizzle was definitely noticeable so we had to do our own version of the Watergate cover-up. This time we were joined by North Wood Morris Men from Croydon, a Cotswold side. Again, they are a long-established team, having formed in 1975.
Between showers, we managed to do Ealuscerwen, Aughton (very appropriate as it is known as the "windscreen wiper" dance), and KBC Processional.

It was a short walk round the castle to get to our third stand at the swimming pool as if we weren't wet enough already. We shared this stand with The Men of Wight, a Cotswold side that has recently featured on TV. Click here to see what I mean.
They also borrowed a couple of stray morris dancers for their set, one of whom was the spitting image of Tim. We know it couldn't have been our Tim because he danced so well.

The highlight of the stand was seeing Michael from the band who had made a special effort to make it. It was wonderful to catch up with him and we all wish him a continued recovery from his recent ill health.

There was also a miniature railway in operation in the adjacent park and the band had great fun playing The Runaway Train as it passed by.

For the record, we performed Aughton, Cossington and Annie's but the final dance of the stand was a combined performance of Fanny Frail with several Kettle Bridge representatives. Please insert your own joke here about the name of this dance. I am unable to think of one that is fit for publication.

Our final stand was due to be at the River Walk but by this time, the rain was persistent. We had just decided to abandon the stand and repair to the pub when we had a special request to perform. Not wishing to disappoint, the dancers put all their efforts into Shawforth which was greatly appreciated.

There was a massed stand of sides at the beer festival but, as there was no suitable surface for clog dancing, we had to opt out. So that was that, then. A big "thank you" is due to the organisers of the day which was a great success (apart from the weather!), especially the keg of beer that was provided at each stand. This brings me on to another vote of thanks, this time to the band who coped with the conditions marvellously. All in all, a great day.