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.