Icknield Way Ale 2015

As this was Lloyd’s first EVER ale we thought we would let him do the write up. So here it is and thanks Lloyd……

I had never been to an Ale before; my old morris side didn’t really go in for them. That meant that I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as we drove on smaller and smaller roads into Oxfordshire, to the small village with a very large hall where Icknield Way were hosting us (Lassington), plus Abingdon, some men from Leicestershire, and some observers from Bampton Traditional Morris.
 
The format was quite simple; sides did show dances, interspersed with mass dances for as many people who could fit onto the dance floor. There was a suggestions board for the mass dances, which started out with only the mythical “Squire’s Jig” but was soon filled with a variety of dances from everywhere from Oddington to Fieldtown. The mass dances all went well, although a little bit of discussion was needed before performing The Vandals of Hammerwich to make sure that everyone was going to do exactly the same thing at the same time! 
 
I particularly enjoyed dancing Highland Mary (Oddington) as I haven’t had a chance to do much Oddington recently, and it’s a lovely tradition. The fact that I hadn’t danced that particular dance before made it slightly more exciting for everyone; similarly for Saturday Night (Bucknell), which made sense in hindsight but not as much (to me) at the time.
Massed dance at Icknield Ale 2015

Massed dance at Icknield Ale 2015

After a good deal of dancing, there was a long pause for a hearty meal laid on by Icknield Way; a chunky stew and baked potatoes, followed by chunky cheese, all washed down by a good beer. A rousing singing session followed, with classics such as “Pleasant and Delightful” and “When the Old Dun Cow Caught Fire” being enjoyed by all.
 
More dancing, both mass dances and show dances, followed, together with a spectacular dual jig danced by one of the Icknield Way men and one of the Leicestershire men, and after another singing session with port kindly provided by Icknield Way, we set up our beds and went to sleep.
 
In the morning, after a superb full English breakfast cooked by Icknield Way, we drove back through the Cotswolds, going past the village of Stanton Harcourt, back to our homes to recover from a long evening of energetic dancing.
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Lassington Oak Ale 2014

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

Saturday 14 November saw the first Lassington Oak Ale for a couple of years. Whilst the venue remained the same – and the traditional apple pies, one supplied by each of the side – the date has moved form the springtime to the Autumn.

This year saw 40 men attending, made up of men from Victory, Icknield Way, White Hart, Packington and Anker. The Ale was also graced by the squire of the ring, which was really a welcome home to Adam Garland as he danced with us from 1992 – 95; he even has a dance named after him ‘Adam’ aka Young Collins (he may tell you the story if you ask him!)

The ale was provided for this year for the first time by the local lads at Gloucester Brewery. With an excellent guest ale, Over the Top from Oakleaf Brewery provided by Victory Morris. This was a particularly fine ruby ale brewed to commemorate the fallen of the First World war, particularly apt as this was ‘poppy’ weekend – thanks lads.

As the sides arrived they were welcomed at the door with ale, and those who were staying over directed the separate hall, which served as the sleeping quarters, to set up there beds.

The dancing kicked off with our traditional Balance the Straw, Fieldtown; followed swiftly on through Bampton, Bledington and others including a demo dance from Victory and a solo jig from Adam the Squire.

After the squire’s jig, we set the hall for the feast, consisting of lamb stew and bread; baked, cooked and served by our own squire. After at least two servings of stew (the second one being bulked out by the remaining vegetarian offering) the apple pies and cream flew out of the kitchen. To give time for the food to settle a party piece was provided by a member of each of the attending sides, whether it was a song, tune or monologue. Again Adam showed his worth as squire by regaling us with a song.

The Squire of the Ring sings

The Squire of the Ring sings

After we had all made merry the tables and chairs were cleared to make way for more dancing. Mid-night came round (and Victory had scribbled out all of the dances on the board!) we finished up with Saturday Night, making a total of 28 dances for the evenings. People drifted of to their homes and beds as we tidied the hall and the hardcore set in for a few more tunes and songs whilst they finished of the remnants of the ale.

For those who chose to stay the night, morning brought a breakfast cooked by the side, with ample food for all, washed down with an almost endless supply of tea and coffee. As a side we did our final tidy up and made a visit to the remnants of THE Lassington Oak, before parting to make our own way home.

Thanks to all those who attended and made the hard work of the side worthwhile. Also thanks to our own squire and bagman for organising it and Steve for proving the feast. A good time was had by all and we hope to do it again next year.

Dancing at the Ale

Dancing at the Ale