Sunday, 30 December 2012

Meet the side

Spring-heeled Pete
This man doesn't just dance, he can fly!
Originally from Flatland, where gravity is far stronger, young Pete learned the finest, most vigorous Morris in the land.  He leaps with such gusto and joy that defies logic.  I personally don't think he's human, more of a will o' the wisp.  He occasionally comes to practices.  He sometimes turns up when we dance out.  Oh but when he does, when he does...something special happens.

If you are looking for Pete, look up!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Happy Yule

As above, have the Happiest Christmas time and the best of New Years from AF on behalf of Chalford Stick Company

Monday, 10 December 2012



It's here again!

That time of year when some of the more daft amongst us black our faces, don our tatty jackets and stab each other with wooden swords.  All in the name of beer!

I'll give more details when I know where we'll be!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Illustrious Order of Fools and Beasts Unconvention 2012

What a time, what a time indeed.

So, your intrepid Apprentice Fool hot-footed it down to Southampton area, leaving at 6.30 and arrived at 9.00. 

Walked into a Scout Hut full of rather odd-looking people looking slightly bleary-eyed.  I grabbed the nearest pesron and he told me to look for Bob, who would help me out.  On spotting said "Bob" I approached him.

"Bob?" I asked.

"Er..Rob" he replied and then took me warmly in and welcomed me to the fold.

We then were gathered all together and given full instruction for the day, with the main proviso being to be as foolish as possible without disturbing the dancers.

We then all boarded the coach and for once, everything went quiet.

In a short time, we arrived at a quiet Wickham Square.  A lovely little town square where we met with King John's Morris Men, Red Stags Morris, Wickham Morris Men and Some delightful Morris Kids of Swanmore Primary School.  Everyone had a dance in the delightful morning sun and much fooling and beastiary was done.

We then clambered back on the coach and various beasts were squashed into the luggage compartment (not to their liking) and we went off to Botley Square, another pretty little square, where again joined by King Johns Morris, Red Stags and Wickham Morris,  we danced under the morning Sun.  We even had our first Fools dance.

Slight walk to the coach again and we ended up at Junction Road at St Denys.  More dancing with King Johns Morris, Red Stags and Wickham Morris, and even a couple more dances of our own with and without sticks.  Not a huge audience for this one, but those that were, were very appreciative.  we then settled down for more liquid refreshment and a spot of lunch.  Particularly notable was the Havant Brewery ale, Stopped Dancing which led us all to some fantastic music and song played by our musicians, making one of those moments that you want to just bottle and keep.

Prised out of the Pub by a very patient coach driver, we headed off to Southampton Art Gallery where we were preveliged to see a specially displayed "The Morris Dancer", portrait of "feathers" Russell, an Eynsham dancer, painted in 1902 by Sir William Nicholson.  Having a quick wander round, lost me a while in the display of some fine Burne Jones paintings.  Meanwhile, some fine Morris Dancing was being done in the gallery.

We then wandered into the Town Square and continued as before with some excellent dances by the Fools and Beasts and particularly noticeable was the sight of Henning (a particularly crazy Dutch Dancer) vanishing off in the distance on a skate-board!

Back to the coach and off to the Horse and Jockey in Curbridge for more Beer dancing, including some more Fools and Beasts dances.  Finally as the light went, we arrived back at The Scout Hut, for a few calm moments before the Evening's frivolities.

Naturally, the best thing I could do was to arrange to stay the night in order to join in!

The feast started and  we had a marvelous meal cooked by some fine Morris Men/Caterers.  Some marvelous beer was quaffed, spirits imbibed and Toasts were made.

New members were inducted, including myself (with a very proud glow! - or was it the ale?)

 The rest of the night was spent watching more dances, a very impressive "Princess Royal" and some brilliant songs were sung.  The rest of the night was a blur and we all carried on until the early hours.

We then slept for a few hours, inbetween the sound of heavy rain, light snoring and various other noises until light.

After another marvelous breakfast, the AGM got underway.  Lots of talking meant that unfortunately we didn't have time for a course, being time to dash off for yet more dancing in the centre of Winchester.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to join, much to my regret, as I dashed off home, a Fool.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Meet the side


A fine dancer.  You'd never know it, but Elisabeth is one of our originals.  Having danced since the craddle, she's also one of our most experienced.  Our gain is certainly everyone else's loss as she's also one of our finest.  So there you have it.  Original, experienced and one of the best.  'nuff said.  Ah...she does sometimes fall over during Chalford Hill.  See, she's not perfect!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Wimmin In Nympsfield

Yes, Nympys finest were out in force to see us last night.

Women In Nympsfield are a fine bunch of fillies who, rather than become part of the Womens Institute, have started their own group of Jam Makers (they're going to kill me for that comment!).

It's so odd that it was a) inside and b) dark, however such a marvelous floor that Young Pete was bounding around even more than usual!

After a good display, we grabbed them and made them join in.  Have to say, they did marvelously and would make some brilliant potential new members, although alas I fear that our loss is Zumba's gain on a Thursday evening.  We got nearly half way through Bobbin Joan and no-one had any bruises- result!

Marvelous tea and biscuits and a warm welcome.

What more could we ask for?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Just in case....

Just in case Eastenders was too interesting last week and you're planning to make your first tentative steps in Morris Dancing next week (20th September), don't come along to the Village Hall in Woodchester, you might upset the WI.  (and you certainly wouldn't want to do that!)

We will be strutting our stuff at Woodchester School that evening, so it's just down the road, same village, same time, longer walk to the pub afterwards!

See you there?

Meet the side...

Old Peter.

The first reference to Old Peter we could find was in one of the Shakespear Sonnets and goes thus:-

"make we merrie dancers of the morrysse

a joye to behold...

was even arounde in the day of Pytre

and he is indeed quyte olde..."

Having danced for many (many) years for some quite prestigious sides, Peter is one of our founding dancers.  He is an ideal mentor and guide for new members, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the art of Morris.

When not Morris Dancing, Ole Pete can often be found behind his beloved tankard, dipping his beard.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Release the inner Morris Dancer within...

Right then you lot, think you can do better?

Actually you very well might!

Come along to our taster session this Thursday (13th September) at 8.00pm and see how much fun we all  it all is.

Woodchester Village Hall, next to the Royal Oak.

Wear some comfortable clothing and watch us all prance about like wallies.  Maybe even join in, who knows, you may enjoy it!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Next Opportunity to see us

Thursday 30th August 2012

8.00pm Morris-Time

The Old Badger, Eastington

First time there, so come along in case they don't invite us back!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Meet the Side

Jane is our Vogon Sargeant.  She was there, back when we started all those years ago, taking a rable of dis-illussioned ex-dancers from several staid sides and turning them into the crack squadron of enthusiastic superstars that we have become.  She choreographs, teaches and even plays for us.  We think she's brill, but will never tell her.  There is a rumour going round that she is seeing one of our other dancers Dave, although I think that she keeps that a secret.  She also is well known for driving around topless in her sports car.

An article that we're having in the local press

Morris Dancing – It’s not all Beards, Bells and Beer!

The traditional English pastime of Morris Dancing has undergone  quite a revival over the past few years.  From feature films such as “Morris- A life with bells on” to the documentary “The way of the Morris”, and the South Bank festival “5000 Morris Dancers”. 

Now there are contemporary sides like The Demon Barbers and The London Belles appearing before packed crowds at some of the major folk festivals around the country.  Even the Olympic Closing Ceremony had its share.

Local Morris side “The Chalford Stick Company” have had a great dance season this year, despite the wet weather.  They have danced at the famous Upton Folk Festival, the National Morris Day of Dance in Stratford on Avon (at the kind invitation of the Royal Shakespeare Company), and the local ‘Stroud on Water’ festival for Cotswold Canals Trust.

“We’ve also danced at some of our favourite local pubs on our regular Thursday performances” said Martin Phillips, one of the longest-serving members.

Now it’s the start of the practice season, until they dance once more on Rodborough Common, at sunrise, on May Day.

“ We’re keen to expand our side this year and would welcome new members.  Old or young; experienced or beginner; male or female.  Anyone is welcome to come along at our taster-evening at Woodchester Village Hall on Thursday 13th September at 8.00pm.  Well known for our energy and enthusiasm, it’s a great way of having some healthy exercise, lots of fun and even the odd real ale or two!”

Why not come along and feel free to watch or even give it a try?

For more information, call Jane on 01453 731752, email us on or have a look at the website

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Rodborough Riding

A new dance, and perhaps one of our more noisy ones.  Based on an old legend of lost love and unfulfilled destiny, we tell this story using the medium of dance.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Black Horse at Amberley

Yet another good night, some amazing views as we danced accross the valley and at the sunset.

We've had alot of requests to see the famous Dead Mans Acre dance.  This is the Zen-like dance that should only be done by highly experienced dancers, which is why if you're very careful, you will see my deliberate mistake.  Luckily, no-one dies.  I wish I could say that for every time we perform this.

Here's another photo from the night.

A great crowd!


Friday, 20 July 2012

Next Opportunity to See Us

Thursday 26th July 2012

8.00pm Morris-Time

The Black Horse, Amberley

Although we haven't told them yet!

Meet the Side

Martin is a nuclear scientist and one of our founding members.  He's currently on secondment to teach the Italians all about Morris.  He might be working there at the same time, but I don't believe it.

Many years ago, he was bitten by a radioactive ant-girl who gave him the superpower to fly, which he uses to great effect during the daring "Dead Man's Acre", in fact I've heard it said that "His Twizzles are amazin'"

In his spare time he drinks real ales and runs although rarely at the same time.  He runs very well, but just cannot hide.

He is currently without beard.


The Three Horseshoes

Now, this isn't a good pub guide, but some things need to be said.  Whatever you're doing stop it!  Leave work/home or whatever and go to this pub.  Queue up for proper beer at a proper pub with a proper landlady.  Listen to live music and even sing along (everyone else does).  If you don't; these places won't exist anymore and it'll be all your fault.

By the way, we had a great time, a fantastic crowd giving us an almost record-size Princess Royal at the end.  Good to see Young Pete again edging back to full fitness.

I want to do it all again.  Now.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Next Opportunity to See Us

19th July 2012 8.00pm Morris Time

The Three Horsheshoes, Frampton on Severn

We look forward to seeing you. 
 First pint's on us (don't be daft, of course it's not!)


Meet the side.

Doug is our musician.  Musicians are those odd people that stand on the sidelines making the noise while we dance.  Doug was clasically trained from an early age.  Scepticism and beer soon took over and he discovered Folk music.  Now, Doug has forgotten more than most musicians haven't even learned yet.  Would be nice if he remembered it once in a while though!

When not squeezing his box for us, Doug can often be found in the corner of some dark pub accompanied by a tankard full of a strange brew and either impressing people with his playing or depressing people with his jokes.

The Star at Whiteshill

Or should we say "the sun"?  Yes, that funny thing that used to be in the sky was back for one night only!

Some good dancing for a still tired side and a great audience.  Really recommend this Pub, some fantastic ales that you won't find in many places and a friendly landlord.  Many thanks for the sandwiches, they soaked the beer up well.  See you next year!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Dancing with Will

What a day, what a day indeed!  As London prepares for its 2012 Olympics, there was something altogether different going on at the other Stratford, you know, the one Upon Avon.

Yesterday was the Joint Open Morris Day of Dance held at the kind invitation of the RSC.  And alongside some fifty or sixty of the Country's best sides, we were there.

It was a full day of dance for us all, and we were not without our casualties.  Ole Pete got hit with a stick (sorry Pete), Elisabeth's ankle got badly twisted, the Musician got amnesia, the Apprentice Fool fell over and Jane bashed her own leg.  With that said, we danced like there was no tomorrow, with enthusiasm and no small amount of skill, indeed, both Jane and Elisabeth were highly complimented by the Head of the Morris Ring himself!  No small feat.  All of that and the finest Princess Royal to behold, dragging as many other sides as we could press-gang last count about thirty dancers!

Thanks to everyone who came along, danced, watched, contributed etc...

Of the other sides, most notable to me were Berkshire Bedlam, Outside Capering Crew and Old Meg, all of whom are well worth catching if you get the chance.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

2012 Season

Programme 2012

 1 May: dawn, Rodborough Common
6 May: Upton Folk Festival
10 May: The Ram, Woodchester
4 June: Stroud on Water Festival
14 June Royal Oak, Woodchester
21 June Star, Whiteshill
28 June: practice
30 June: Morris Federation, Stratford on Avon
1 July: Edge Fete (1700)
12 July: Black Horse, Amberley
19 July: Three Horseshoes, Frampton on Severn
21 July: Stroud Show
26 July: Old Crown, Uley

All pub performances to be confirmed and probably about 1900 (Morris time)

New members / enquiries welcomed: email Old Pete.


May Day 2012 (torrential rain started at foot-up). Water for the harvest and the fertility of women assured for another year. Someone has to.

 Upton Folk Festival:

Jane lifted, as though pulled on a silken thread...

The last six pictures are of our two person square dance, the unsquare dance.