The Holt Morris side at the Barge Inn, Bradford-On-Avon.

It is not every year that Holt Morris can muster enough members to embark on our annual endeavour to collect money for the Children in Need Appeal. Last year we missed out. However this made us more determined to make sure that in 2018 we did not! Preparations commenced a few weeks ago, after we had established a good personnel turnout, in terms of seeking permission and alerting "publicans" to our wish to visit their establishments for the purposes of "entertainment" and passing round the bucket.

Our tour commenced, as usual, at "The Castle Inn" where by good chance, a goodly number of patrons were already eating out or having an end of the working week drink. We always start here because the "Flatcapper" ale is particularly fine and tends to prepare the squad for the evening ahead, lifting spirits and vanquishing reservations about dangling collection buckets under the noses of unsuspecting Bradfordians.

The picture below shows the team limbering up with copious amounts of liquid fortitude for the evening ahead.

The Holt Morris side at the Castle Inn, Bradford-On-Avon.

The usual approach to all the pubs is, "Pay up, or we Dance!!" However, the amazing response universally was, "Dance or you get Nothing." The reception in every venue was very rewarding, and really put paid to the notion that Morris Dancing is something to be laughed at, or indeed, something to empty a pub, even on the busiest of nights! This was particularly vivid during visit 6, (or was it 7?) "The Three Horseshoes Inn" where, by happy chance, we arrived at the interval of the evening band’s performance who then kindly extended their break while we did OUR stuff in front of THEIR audience. During our dance I noticed that three members of the band were filming us on phones, (could be evidence for later banter) and when we finished, the loudest cheer came from them. Excellent and most gratifying.

All evening the bonhomie of people was fantastic, funny and rewarding... One donator promised us £20 if they could have a hug from all members of the side... We obliged... A very nice lady. People about to leave pubs, stayed on to watch us! People followed us around all evening- Or, just maybe, we were on the same pub crawl! It was a great night... And the rewards of our endeavour?

Total Raised :- £474.00 - including 5 donations of £20.00 or more, 16 of £5.00. or more and about 5 kgs. of so-called shrapnel- coins of all types, but mostly of £1.00. Holt Morris will present £500.00 to the cause, topping up the balance from our own coffers.



The evenings Holt Morris side at Castle Coombe.

Balmy summer evenings, pub outings, dancing, music, good ale, bar sessions, audiences in excess of a man and a dog. Close to paradise, eh? Yep, with much joy, the Holt summertime pub programme is now in full swing. Mr Chris Tunnicliffe, a man willing to put his body on the line to vet the efficacy of ale at pubs various, (taking one for the team. Ed.) had devised our programme. Unusually, he has this year found thirst inducing Mediterranean conditions, blessed each evening by a texture of warmth and fading golden light. All rather lovely, really. Our opening fixture was at “the Longs Arms”, Steeple Ashton, not only a fine pub in a delightful setting, but also frequented by enthusiastic parishioners who turn out to watch – year after year. Same again in 2018. Mr Moyes, stepping in for Mr Nibbs, did a fine job of engaging a good audience, the dancing and music were grand, and the French fries were scrumptious. A brief music and song session closed another happy visit: thanks, Longs Arms. Our second appointment took us to Castle Coombe, the “prettiest village in England”. Here, it isn’t unusual to stumble across Dr Doolittle, Hercule Poirot, Robin of Sherwood, Wolfman and even War Horse. We were joined by Hips and Haws, very good morris friends from way back. All was going to plan until, inexplicably, our set of sticks failed to turn up. We weren’t picking up a signal, so we couldn’t phone them to ask “where the heck are you?”. Theories abound as to why, including staying at home to watch the England v Belgium footy game. Upshot: Hips and Haws performed a wide range of complex dances using all sorts of props, including raiding a basket for sheets as part of newly written “Bobbins”, whilst Holt stitched together a makeshift programme of hankie and handclapping dances. After a couple of joint dances, the musicians moved indoors for a session in the bar. All agreed it would be good to do again next year….who knows, maybe the sticks will turn up? And so to the third pub outing, this time to the George Inn, Longbridge Deverill. En route, we found the road closed, causing a short and scenic detour “out west”. On arrival, several thousand bikers seemed to be occupying the car park, so Mr Moyes, carefully piloting the Holt Community minibus, was forced to negotiate river and grassy plain prior to touchdown at the very edge of Salisbury Plain. We had arranged, at last, to meet up with Sarum Morris, who were very welcoming hosts. Although the dance surface was a bit tricky (grassy slope and tree roots), none of the musicians fell over and the setting by the duck pond and trees was lovely. Our sticks had decided to turn up (no footy – coincidence?) so we were able to perform a slightly more varied programme. Mr Jonny Nibbs made a welcome return to MCing, and Mr Dave Lawrence made an excellent “Signpost” day-boo (as our Australian cousins would have it) at No 3. Apart from the occasional 200db thunder from angry motorcycles, this was yet another calm, balmy and beautifully lit evening. Oh, and the French fries were excellent too. Thanks, Sarum, see you again next year for another splendid summer evening.



The apparent fallow period between the end of September 2017 and May 2018 draws to a close as the new 2018 season of intense public activity kicks off. But of course along with our now traditional public events during this period- Bradford Roots, Mount Pleasant Xmas Extravaganza, Boxing-Day, etc, behind the scenes, intense activity has been taking place every Thursday evening in the practice room, as we have prepared for the Spring, Summer and Autumn onslaught. Much of the programme is similar to every other year, but some exciting new activities have insinuated themselves. The Winchester Mayfest, for example and a different pub dance-out programme which is presently being planned, supported by essential preliminary research by Chris and his team. We hope, of course, we’ll see some, if not all, of you during our travels in 2018 and that you will consider our dedicated effort in the rehearsal space rewards you with a worthy public spectacle, wherever that may be.