Wassailing - Saturday 12th January
On a crisp, clear, but otherwise fine day, we gathered at the ‘Lyth Valley Hotel’ (yes, in the Lyth valley), to wish one another a ‘Happy New Year’ and to hear news of various Christmas and Hogmanay revelries, within the ‘side’.
Some of us had drinks, sandwiches and/or soup (which was excellent), to fortify ourselves for the ‘Wassailing Ceremony’ and the following events of the day.
This year was our 5th ‘Wassailing Day’. The day and the ‘Wassailing Ceremony’ at the damson orchard of ‘The Barn’, The Row, was dedicated to the memory of Mr John Walker (the owner of our orchard), who had sadly died of cancer in 2012.
John and his wife Pat have supported and encouraged us in our efforts to revive and re-establish ‘wassailing’ in the Lyth valley, since we first started. We decided that our collection for the day would be donated to the Cancer charities, in recognition of our thanks to the family and as a mark of respect.
Our Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon was Simon Gillow, more formally known by the title of the ‘Lord of Misrule’, a term dating back many centuries, to the person overseeing the organising of such festivities.
He did us proud, welcoming and thanking the Walker family, our guests, family and friends, before guiding and leading us through the intricacies of the ‘Wassailing Ceremony’ (ably assisted by his marvellous assistant, Bonnie).
We sang wassailing songs and Simon spoke of the significance and importance of the ‘Wren’ in earlier times, before finally, we made much noise and commotion to awaken and invoke the dormant spirits of the orchard!
Toast soaked in our ‘wassail cup’ (filled with warm Damson Beer), was placed within the boughs of our damson tree, as a gift to the spirits and to show the fruits created the previous year. We then drank communally from our ‘three-handled’ wassail cup and shared Judy Malkin’s wonderful damson cake, whilst making wishes for a prosperous New Year and a successful crop of damsons in the coming year.
We Morris danced and sang a final wassail song, down in the yard, before adjourning to the ‘Hare and Hounds’, Bowland Bridge for more merriment!
After quenching out thirst… we took it in turns, to dance ‘turn-and-turn-about’ with our guests, the excellent Appalachian dancers, ‘Legs Levens’ and their incomparable musicians, ‘The Limestone Cowboys’, outside the pub.
This was then followed by an outdoor performance of Crook Morris’ ‘Mummers Play’. Father Christmas, St George, the Turkish Knight and the ‘good Doctor’ all made their customary appearance, along with topical jokes and ribald comments from the audience.
As the light faded, we moved inside, chatting and playing board games and cards – the start of a very convivial evening.
The ‘Hare and Hounds’, once again, came up trumps, with their food. It was hot, beautifully cooked and, believe me, no one went hungry. In fact, there were those amongst us, who struggled to find sufficient lift and energy in the subsequent dancing, such was the generosity of their portions!
As the evening progressed, the rapper dancers within Crook performed both of their rapper dances and Legs Levens and Crook took it in turns to dance. The Mummers repeated their Mumming Play and the singers and musicians entertained us with wonderful songs, tunes and a fine ‘session’.
Celebrations carried on late into the night!! A sizeable group of us ‘camped’ overnight in our campervans, on the car park of the ‘Hare and Hounds’. There was much agreement that it had been a very fine day indeed, and a superb evening!
Here’s hoping that Saturday 11th January, 2014 will be enjoyable and as much fun!
The Lock in - Sunday 10th February
The rapper section of crook arrived in Keswick at 2pm and we danced in a couple of pubs along the Main Street, making sure we tasted the beers on offer, even if it did mean five of us sharing half a pint with straws... In both pubs we managed to attract an audience (of varying numbers), but that didn't put us off because we ended up in the tourist information dancing to the two people working there and a couple of confused passers by at the window!
When the rest of Crook joined us at 4pm in the pub called The Inn (or was it an Inn called The Pub...) we decided that dancing inside out of the rain was the best option, even if it meant Gary jumping under the light and spiking his head.
After the dancing we all went in various directions to eat and to eventually meet up at the Theatre by the Lake at half six.
Then alongside Belfagan and Two-Headed Sheep we danced in the freezing cold before the show. But for me the second best highlight of the day (the first being the show of course) was performing rapper in the foyer with our large captive audience.
Then after all that dancing it was nice to sit down and watch The Lock In show, which was amazing, and I feel I've been inspired with the rapper to move our dancing up to the next level!
It was also good of them to reward the people who stayed around after the show with a small, but perfectly formed, flash mob.
Young Farmers, Grayrigg, Tuesday 5th March
Despite a last minute change of venue "Crookies" managed to find Selside village hall, everyone arriving in good time.
We were welcomed by the young people, who had their usual short meeting but then the "fun" started with the dancing of "Fanny Frail", Martyn keeping us all in "line" and proving we are a mixed side (being the only male dancer).
He connected with the young farmers really well and, surprise surprise, nearly all got up to have a go with much giggling and general laughter. Each crook dancer helped and encouraged their new partner, thus Fanny Frail was accomplished very well, the sticking being very impressive and only one "ouch" was heard.
Then followed March Past, the musicians getting slightly carried away with the speed, but "hey" it was fun. The evening drew to a close with questions and answers, Martyn being able to instil much interest. We were then thanked in the usual way. As a resident of Selside I can say the village hall has not witnessed so much fun for a while.
Damson Day Saturday 13th April
In the week before Damson Day, the weather forecast for the Saturday was for torrential rain so we hardly dared believe that it was dry. More than that, there was actually warm(ish) sunshine for most of the day so we had a good audience for all our three spots.
The entertainment stand where we performed was on a different, and better, site from previous years. Unfortunately it was slightly sloping so it was like performing on a raked stage and non-dancing Crooks could see that the bottom of the central pole was threatening to slide downhill during one dance. Luckily it lasted until the end of the dance and was re-sited with a few sharp kicks.
During our first spot, whilst there were two sets dancing ‘The Poacher’, I was interviewed live by Val Armstrong from Radio Cumbria, who was herself being filmed by a TV crew. Having not heard the radio broadcast or seen the film I haven’t a clue whether I came over well or gormless!
In between our spots we had time to look round the various stalls and feed ourselves with the usual good fare on offer (I can recommend the soup and cheese scones and there were quite a few ice creams consumed). There were also a few flashes of Rapper both in the courtyard and on the entertainment stand.
There was a good turn-out of Crooks and we were able to have two sets for most of the dances. We acquitted ourselves well (a few mistakes we knew about but, we hope, escaped the audience). Well danced and well played everyone!
Upton upon Severn Folk Festival - Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th May
Crook’s annual visit to Upton in May has become a Must Do event, eagerly looked forward to on our summer calendar.
The cold and wet of 2012 was well and truly kicked into touch by a benevolent sun god who bathed us in glorious clear, almost hot, energy giving sunshine.
Dancing as usual at the Swan Inn and other riverside venues, Crook performed well to an appreciative audience of both public and other sides.
Our afternoon show dances on Saturday and Sunday included a first showing of our own dance: String of Pearls, written by Martyn Harvey in celebration of Crook’s thirtieth anniversary, three years ago. All dances were performed well.
Crook has become famous for their Saturday evening themed parties where, the more exhibitionists among us (which are most) give reign to some astounding creations. This year’s theme was: Heroes and Villains, attracting several pirates, historic noblemen, literary figures, a convict and a couple of excellent Cloella de Ville’s, to name just a few. Fortified by wine and nibbles and much mingling, a great time was had by all.
Rapper tour Kirkby Lonsdale - Saturday 7th September
Well, it could have been a disaster. After deciding to turn up at Kirkby Lonsdale and "busk it", as we have done previously, Freddie happened to pick up the Gazette on Friday to discover that Kirkby Lonsdale was holding its annual "Big Weekend", with stalls, events, entertainers, attendance "by invitation only". We were afraid that it would be totally inappropriate to turn up and basically gatecrash their event, but Dan came up trumps by contacting the organiser, who was more than happy for us to join in. She suggested some places where she would like us to dance, and we also danced in a couple of pubs, outside Booth's and at the Fire Station.
We were joined by Suzanne, doing some flat footing, and by Jackie Mason doing some Westmorland clogging. We owe big thanks to Freddie for playing for rapper and for Suzanne, and to Dan for accompanying his Mum. Our audiences were very enthusiastic and generous. One of the local charities being collected for was the local Trauma Relief Fund, and we decided that we would like to give a large part of our collection to this charity. We collected £75 and some pence, and Dan and Sam could not resist digging into their own pockets to make the sum up to a round £76. We intend to give £50 of this to the local charity.
After dancing, some of us returned to Anjie's house, where we ate crisps, curry, cakes and chocolate, drank a variety of alcoholic beverages, and ended up at 4am watching Youtube videos of cats dressed as sharks riding robotic vacuum cleaners (as you do). Breakfast and chat was also provided by Anjie, she is such a good host that we will have to visit her again.
Flash Tour - Monday 16th September
The idea of a ‘Flash Tour’ was a new one. The concept being to visit pubs and perform one or two dances and move on. People on the tour would either be Rapper Dancers, or Morris Dancers.
The original plan was for us to have 8 border and 5 rapper so 13 dancers.
No need for any kit changes in a pub before we danced.
That didn't work, we were always short of this ideal and when Liz sadly had to drop out with her damaged hand we needed a few of the rapper dances to effect quick changes and do both dances.
I need and want to say a massive thank you to all the dancers who were involved in this and did it quietly, willingly and pretty quickly.
It helped the smoothness of what we offered.
My thanks also go to Dan who had worked which rapper dancer was doing which dance and then had the need for an extra person to do the change dropped on him at the last minute. No fuss he just got on with it and it worked as well as it could.
Our musicians managed to find space where the staff and audience could still see the dances and when not required they melted away with no hiatus for our performance so thank you.
The Brewery Arts Centre was welcome and the audience enjoyed both types of dances and were generous but all the pubs were very very quiet. Why ?
Kendal had been very busy during the day with The Tour Of Britain and some had even sold out of beer.
Then the weather was not good !
Did it work ?
I felt that all the venues were fine for the rapper.
The space was tight for the border but just about manageable.
All the pub staff were pleased to see us, enjoyed what we did and I think would agree to future similar ventures.How was it for us ?
I felt that initially the rapper dancers were clearly more at ease, it's an approach they are used to and is tried and tested.
Understandably the border dancers were a little tentative to start with but did settle, perform well and hold their own with the rapper.
My original aim was for this night to try and help maintain the closeness of the side and to see if this sort of tour for the winter may be a way where the side can occasionally offer a broader approach.
I thought this did work and that we should consider repeating this once or twice.
Squire'sTour - Saturday 21st September
This was the farewell tour for our Squire Gill, who is moving to Congleton.
Unlike last year the weather held out and we managed more than two dances! In fact we danced at all three venues.
The Chocolate Factory in Orton proved to be a good place to start and most Crooks went for a coffee or chocolate before dancing. We only had a small audience but they were very appreciative.
Arriving in Kirkby Stephen, some of us were starving hungry and went for lunch straight away (just me, then?) but some were still full of chocolate. We drew in a good audience, some of whom stayed for the whole spot, some watched one dance and then others came for the next dance.
Maggie went round with the hat and collected from our generous audience.
After the dancing, while some went for lunch, others went straight to the next venue for a drink. It was damp and drizzly and there was no point in trying to dance outside. However some of the customers really wanted to see us perform so I asked the landlord for permission to dance inside. We moved some furniture and had to bear in mind that there was only limited head room but we managed one Cotswold, one Border one Rapper dance and a really good collection!
Well danced, well played everyone and many thanks to everyone on the Tour for a great day. As usual, photos have already appeared on Facebook.
Rapper Tour - Monday 23rd September
Crook Rapper did another flash tour of Kendal last night, joined by Suzanne and her flat-footing friends. Although we spent some time walking around Kendal, and were turned away by a couple of pubs, we had a great evening and were extremely well received at the pubs we did dance in.
We met at the Brewery for a pre-tour drink and chat, and then went on to The Shakespeare, where we did our first spot. The punters were friendly and welcoming, and 2 of the chaps watching us here turned up at our last spot as well!
Second spot of the evening was Dickie Doodles, where Chris was welcomed like a long-lost son. There was a good audience who were extremely appreciative, and we did 2 spots each to a good reception. We were then asked to repeat a dance, and managed to include a "groupie" who had seen us when we danced at Last Orders in July (I think he might have had a drink or 2) and who managed a very creditable spin.
We finished up at the Ring O' Bells, where we met up with our other 2 groupies, and were again welcomed with great enthusiasm. We did another 2 spots each, and then finished with a bit a of chilling out and chat regarding practice for the winter.
Pauline could not be prevented from taking the hat around. The first pub we visited were supporting the Macmillan Cancer charity, and Pauline collected £65.93 on their behalf from the 3 pubs we visited.
Rapper Tour Lancaster - Saturday 19th October
Crook Rapper had a grand day out in Lancaster City Centre on Saturday 19th October. Our guests were Suzanne Ambrose (flatfooting and Appalachian), four clog dancers and 2 musicians from Westmorland Step and Garland, and the newly formed Lancaster University Sword Dance Team (LURST). We had only made firm arrangements for morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea, as we were hoping that the weather gods would smile on us and allow us to do most of our dancing outdoors!
Initially the weather looked dire, with heavy rain and strong winds early in the morning. However, by the time we all met at our first spot, The Music Room café on Sun Street, the rain had stopped, and it was drying out nicely. After the essential injection of high-quality Atkinson’s coffee to get us going, we braved the slippery paving slabs to dance to a small, select audience at the lovely square outside the café.
Moving on, we set up in the market square, where the many different stalls were attracting people out despite the weather. We gathered a good audience who were very appreciative of our variety of dance styles, and we stayed there for about an hour.
We then attempted to dance inside the St Nic’s arcade, but after only 2 dances a large security man in a hi-viz tabard moved us on. Their loss was Penny Street’s gain, as we swiftly decamped to Horseshoe Corner and completed our set to another large and appreciative audience. We finished the morning by dancing in front of Queen Victoria (the statue, not the person) in Dalton Square, before visiting The Sir Richard Owen pub for lunch.
The afternoon saw us dancing at the top of Penny Street, and then moving back to the Market Square, where we gained a fresh large audience. We repeated our repertoire, ending with an “audience participation” rapper dance for the children who were enjoying the show. It was then off to The Priory Hall café, where Ian gave us a warm welcome and allowed us to dance on his stunning maple-wood floor. Finally, we relaxed with some more Atkinson’s tea and coffee, and a selection of their marvellous cakes.
We had a great day, and would like to thank our guests for joining us and making the entertainment varied and exciting. It was LURST’s first tour off of the University campus, and we hoped we showed them what fun it is getting out and performing in public after all the hard work practising. We would also like to thank Ian at Atkinson’s for making us so welcome in his cafés. We hope to return to tour Lancaster again before too long.
Christmas Ceilidh - Saturday 7th December
My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to your Christmas Ceilidh. It was brilliant and we hope to be there next year.
The Revellers just get better and better and the Morris was great.
It was brilliant….. I loved everything, but especially when the brass section joined in on the music…..
However on reflection the Morris themselves were fantastic, best I’ve seen yet and the Revellers had just the right mix of songs. Tumbling Tom, of course, are still the best ceilidh band around.
Thoroughly enjoyed the night, thank you.
The quality of the singing was fantastic.
I enjoyed the dance spot this year and found the presentation impressive.
Plenty of room to dance.
Intervals for song and dance spots made the night extra special.
Excellent ceilidh dances chosen for variety and “doability”.
Dancing to festive tunes.
The friendliness of Crook Morris.
Nothing, your ceilidh is a highlight of my year and my whole family had a great time.