A couple of private engagements ahead then dance-out season will be sneaking up on us, so a good time to overhaul our equipment 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…
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!
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.
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.
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.