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2024  

Another Morris musician is needed to join our friendly side - especially Tuesdays.  Please contact us if you can help.

STOP PRESS - NEW EVENT

Folk on Poole Quay is a new event being put together for Saturday 29 June following support from local publicans.  Details are hazy at this point but we will be there together with other local sides!  Possible times are 11 to 4, confirmation to follow.

Wessex Folk Festival

Sunny skies at Weymouth, a pleasantly cooling breeze, fish and chips, Dorset apple cake - what more could you want?  Music and Morris dancing, of course! We did 3 spots and risked some of our less frequently danced and rehearsed numbers to ring the changes - dare we continue this bold trend?  Watch this space.

We've been framed!

And hung on a wall to make an exhibition of ourselves!  Yes, you can come and see the spectacle as ace photographer Steve Poole's much anticipated  exhibition on People of the New Forest (Uncommoners) has now opened at the St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery in Lymington and is well worth a look.  See if you can spot us.  Uncommonners

Winchester Mayfest
The rain held off and the Meddlars threw themselves into our favourite event.  All six of our new dancers turned out and did the lion's share of the dancing for us - just what we were hoping.  Brilliant stuff.

Green Man Parade at Burley

We were proud to be part of a Green Man Parade revival which was held at Burley for the first time for 160 years in a traditional celebration of the start of Summer.  It began at Burley Manor Hotel with some dancing, drumming, flag-raising and town-crying and the long procession then followed the 1860  route through the village to Shappen Bottom  It was a great turnout and the green folk looked fantastic.  A horn was sounded, the Green Lady called for Jack in the Green to appear  which he duly did, looking a bit tousled, but still remembering  how to bless the Forest and call down fertility for the coming year.  (A good week for it as the stallions have just been released for their usual 6 weeks of frisky forest frolicking).  A good time was had by all.

Mayday Dancing at Dawn

Well done to everyone who made it for 5.30am, both Meddlars and spectators.  A special event, and a big thank you to our caterers for the egg and bacon baps which followed.

New Side Photos

Richard turned up with tripod and camera, we lined up at sundown

next to some ponies and we began to bat away the hungry midges.

The results can be viewed here and  on the Gallery page.

Just one Meddlar missing unfortunately.

Many thanks to Richard Smith. for his photographic and herding skills.

St George’s Day

It’s always a pleasure to re-find old friends on Poole Quay for a multi-side dance-out on St George’s Day. Meddlars turned up in force and, impressively, were able to ‘double up’ on some of the dances. Another good display from our new recruits, including one on his debut dance-out. We did it all again two days later, this time squeezing cosily together on some pub decking in Sway.

Brockenhurst Gateway Club

We were delighted to be invited back by our young and energetic friends at Brockenhurst Gateway Club for an enjoyable evening of dance and song together.

Hot but not Cross Bells

Our Easter Sunday dancing at Sandy Balls Holiday Village gathered appreciative crowds in the pauses between the serious business of egg hunting, throwing and rolling.  Our new recruits eggcelled and the regulars showed off their eggsquisite footwork as we rolled out the new dances we've been learning this winter as well as some old favourites.

Summer Days

On these dreary, dank days it's good to look back on some Summer warmth.  We've come across a write-up of an afternoon we helped  open and bless a new greenhouse at Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst.  It was a happy occasion and the cream tea afterwards was delicious!  Morris Dancers on the Front Foot

Photos: Colten Care

Alan Frampton - Eighteen Years a Meddlar

After 18 years as a Meddlar - dancer, musician, Squire and dance instructor, Alan Frampton has announced his decision to step aside.  Alan took over as squire in September 2019 when the former squire and the chief musician moved away and very soon had the tricky task of taking the side  through the trials of Covid and lockdown and ensuring its survival.  Very much the figurehead of the side, his cheeriness, optimism and encouragement have helped pull people into Morris and have given confidence to all of us as we struggle to learn the dances or play the tunes.  We are stunned and saddened by his decision but we all wish him well.

 

 A Leapling Wedding - 29th February

We do like a wedding, and this one in the Forest didn't disappoint.  It's become a bit of a trend for the bride or groom's parents or friends to practise with us in secret and then amaze the guests with their moves on the big day.  Mary and Ian showed everyone how it was done on East Acton - a raggie teemed with heels was an exciting new look for the Meddlars and the groom's face was an absolute  picture!  Guests of all ages enjoyed having a go themselves later with Tinner's Rabbit.  Heartfelt congratulations to Emily and Tom - a great afternoon to remember, but we're already wondering what's going to happen next year at anniversary time???

Stick Repair

Dance-out season is sneaking up on us, so a good time to overhaul our sticks  We had the help of award-winning New Forest luthier, Alex Potter  www.aspotterinstruments.com, who applied the subtle skills of a master craftsman to the more rustic and rudimentary requirements of a set of bashed-up Morris sticks.  Sorry specimens we thought were firewood were cut back at each end to reach sound wood, corners were rounded, rough bits were smoothed, oil was applied and new short sticks emerged from the makeover.   Thank-you Dr Alex for curing the Meddlars’ worn-out butts and tips and knobbly bits!  The less sorry sticks have also been spruced up, so we are now raring to go – just the dances to pull together …  No pressure!

Making Music

Some of our fabulous musicians giving up a rare sunny Saturday afternoon to get together to practise the Meddlars' dance tunes.  Trying to get everyone to play the same note at the same time.....   Sounding good, guys!

Moonlighting!

Two of the Meddlars' musicians caught moonlighting recently for the Quayside Cloggies and for a Playford dance group - we clearly don't pay them enough!  No transfer request yet though.

Cheque Presentation

There was quite a buzz in Hythe when Bumble, from our charity Honeypot House, flew in to accept a cheque from the Meddlars.  Thanks to the generosity of our  public, or to the persuasive extortion skills of our collectors, we managed to total a massive £600 during the 2023 dance-out season which has been doubled to £1,200 by matched funding - all to go for the benefit of young carers. 

Plough Monday

 In a great start to the new year we were invited by Holly Copse Molly to brave the winter cold to celebrate the tradition of Plough Monday alongside themselves, the Quayside Cloggies, the Hobos, Anonymous Morris, the Dorset Buttons Rapper and Southern Star Longsword.   The sun shone for us and it was a good introduction for some of our new members, dancing out for the first time.

 Fabulous Fawley Yuletide Fayre 

There were DONKEYS!!!!  And Santa on a STEAM ENGINE!!!  And a BRASS BAND!!  What a fab, friendly, fun event it was! 

The weather was kind and so were the crowds and we had a great time dancing two spots, with plenty of happy audience participation.  A special mention goes to three-year-old Oliver and his free form version of Tinner’s Rabbit.  Awesome!

Bracing Brockenhurst Lights Switch-On

It was a chilly, bone-cracking sort of evening for silly Santa to get stuck on top of a supermarket roof!  Fortunately the fearless and fettlesome Forest firefighters drew up up with a squeal of brakes to rescue him, so Christmas was saved!  Hooray! More excitement followed as the Merry Meddlars began the first of two spots by warming up with 3 lines for East Acton while the musicians tried valiantly to keep their frozen fingers moving.  It was fantastic to have two new members dancing out with us for the first time and doing a grand job of it.  Have a look at our 2023 Gallery page to see some great photos of the evening.

Taster Sessions - We were happy to welcome some new recruits to our taster sessions in October. A good time was had by all and we were amazed by how quickly newcomers picked up the steps.  Most have now become regulars and we're learning some new dances together at our weekly, winter practices.  

Highlights of 2023  

Swanage Folk Festival was a sizzling, sultry, sunny end to the season.  The Meddlars band was augmented by an array of former members, giving a great sound and we all danced our little socks off for our three spots, followed by the procession where we can be seen just behind the leaders.  Our beach hut was a great success for chat and chill at the end of each spot and was the launching pad for a squealing run across the hot sands to plunge into the blissful cool of the briny when it was all over for the day. 

Oh, and we're in the official 2024 Swanage Folk Festival calendar as well!  The merry month of May, in case you were wondering.

Fordingbridge Steam and Vintage Fest had, you've guessed it, an amazing number of working steam engines to view or even ride on as well as some nostalgia inducing classic cars,  sheep for shearing, ponies for petting, horses for ploughing and Morris dancers and musicians for getting drenched in the afternoon's torrential rain.  Two dry spots out of three, so not too bad!

Eastleigh Mela was a great day out - drummers, a Chinese dragon, dance workshops and much else besides.  Amazing looking food stalls - the samosas were a  particular hit with the Meddlars!

June gave us two Dorset folk festivals in eight days -  Wessex Folk Festival with cooling sea breezes  followed by  Wimborne Minster Folk Festival.  Tibetan monks, Appalachian, Cotswold, Border, Clog, Longsword, Rapper, Regency, Belly, Bulgarian, Slovakian,  maybe more.  It was awesome. 

Winchester Mayfest was great fun as usual.  Over twenty Morris sides representing different traditions and with differing competencies were dancing all day throughout the town centre, causing mayhem and/or delight wherever they were to be found. 

We had a great time dancing and socialising and watching other sides in action.

Awbridge, however you say it, was awesome - a great family afternoon.  We had enjoyed the enthusiastic support of some of our  friends from the Brockenhurst Gateway Club at our last practice and were pleased to see Caitlin at Awbridge - and to have her join the band for a couple of numbers playing on Burt the rattle stick.    Go Caitlin!

Coronation Weekend we had our Union Flag hankies waving for our celebration dancing:

Sunday we basked in the sun and enjoyed sea shanties from the superb Southampton Salty Sea Dogs before dancing on the lush, green grass at St John's Church, Hythe at a community picnic and barbeque. Full of burger and bun we moved on to dance in Hythe  High Street where our band was joined by a sexy, salty sea dog - thank you the lovely Adrian!

Monday we did two spots at Milford on Sea's village celebration where there was a good crowd out in spite of the overcast skies and general dampness,  We danced, had a carousel ride, ate cake, watched the Milford West Gallery Quire perform Thomas Hardy and tried out the Zumba - Milford on Sea rocks!

It was great to see so many people up with the lark to join us in welcoming in the dawn at Bolton's Bench on May Day.  And great to see so many of them grabbing a stick and having a go at 'Tinner's Rabbit' to warm up and wake up  before heading for home and breakfast! 

The Summer season started well with sunny skies over Poole Quay on St George's Day.  We had a good time dancing with other local sides - Hobos, Anonymous Morris, Holly Copse Molly, a long sword side and, of course, our wonderful hosts Bourne River Morris. 

February - Sarum Morris Dance Workshop

In February, five of our dancers and two musicians headed to Alderbury Village Hall for a day's Dance Workshop, hosted by Sarum Morris.  We had been invited to teach a session and were first up to demonstrate and coach our five person dance 'Pride of Holland Street' to the tune of 'Cocking the Chafer'.  

The Knights of King Ina, a team from Somerset, were next and gave two demonstrations of solo jigs - typically seen as competition or show-off dances and only danced by those considered to be the best dancers in a side.  They began with 'Lumps of Plum Pudding' and followed on with 'Ladies of Pleasure'.  Athleticism, flexibility and balance were all called for.  Our two musicians had a  rare opportunity to join in with the dancing, which they did with grit and gusto - a decision they regretted for the rest of the week!

Rockhopper Morris completed the day.  They demonstrated and taught several of their handkerchief dances, using Raglan stepping, which was new to most of the Meddlars.

We had a great day, enjoyed meeting other sides and learning new steps and dances.  Our thanks go to Sarum Morris for their hospitality and for their delicious home-made food.

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