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Now when you visit good traditional country pubs, you occasionally come across English eccentricities that have obviously been around for centuries — but enough about Kettle Bridge Clogs. At the Blacksmith's Arms, we encountered some people playing a game called Bat and Trap.
This is a traditional Kentish game and is played between two teams. Up one end, is the trap, which contains a small seesaw mechanism. The batter puts the ball on one end of the seesaw and hits the other end, causing the ball to fly up. While it is in the air, the batter hits the ball up the other end of the pitch, trying to get it between the posts which are being guarded by the opposition team. That team then bowls the ball back down to the trap, trying to knock the wicket down that is attached to the trap. Click here to see a video of the game being featured on BBC Countryfile.
The game does have a long history which you can read all about by clicking here. Although it almost died out, there was a resurgence in the 20th century, rather like morris dancing. You will see in the article that the Blacksmiths Arms actually won the All England championship when it took place in Canterbury in the mid 1980s. What is not mentioned is that Bat and Trap is often symbolically played at Kent weddings. The ball represents the groom, the bride is an old bat and the trap is their future together. Or perhaps I made that bit up.
As we were dancing at two locations, we had only a short time at the Blacksmiths Arms. Dancing alternately with Ravensbourne, we managed to squeeze in Sidcot, Marston 6 and Black-smithsArms-Rod.
Before moving on, I really must mention that there was a special guest in the audience, namely Sally from Sidmouth. It was great to see her again and to catch up on what she has been up to in sunny Devon.
Then it was time to make our way a mile and a half up the road to The Queen's Head in Downe. Like last year, we set ourselves up around the tree in the middle of the road. Thankfully, there was no thunderstorm this time! However, there was the usual bus that appeared at the stop adjacent to the tree. This was a one-man operated bus which was unfortunate because the Kettle Bridge band were in desperate need of a conductor.
The light was beginning to fade by now, but we managed Lostock, Annie's and Shawforth before Ravensbourne brought proceedings to a close with an all-in Bonny Green Garters which several of our dancers joined in with. Incidentally, there is a song which goes with this dance. The lyrics are
To round things off, we made our way into the pub for a traditional session of folk music — and drinking, of course. Finally, many thanks go to Ravensbourne for arranging such an excellent evening.