On Saturday 14th January 2023 Sweyn’s Ey were invited to perform at the Gower Wassail and Mari Llwyd parade at the Heritage Centre, Parkmill. Our original plan was to perform the Gower Christmas Sport mumming play followed by some dancing. Our slot was reduced to 20 minutes so we abandoned the play, which we had already performed at the mill in December.
The water-mill is conveniently located next to the stream. Unfortunately the main courtyard had flooded in the morning and several of the parking areas were under water. Parking was extremely difficult and even though we were all there well before our scheduled start at 4 p.m. there was a degree of last-minute rushing about, putting bells on and so on as they were running half an hour late and the suddenly it was our turn and the previous act on stage had to wait until after the Wassail to perform.
Before we started dancing Ben’s unerring desire to leap into the spotlight saw him being interviewed for Swan TV with a sprightly Jaunty behind him. This features heavily in one of the video records of the day. Wassail indeed.
Sian was our main musician with Alex D, Alex H, Alison H, Ben, Keith, Di, Nigel and Stewart dancing, Stewart spent a fair amount of time in Jaunty our ‘oss, he was out-numbered by the 7 Mari Llwyds in attendance. We had a very tight space in which to dance so 8 person dances and those with more flamboyant sticking were off the agenda. We danced Brighton Camp and Lads-A-Buncham (Adderbury), Valentines and Balance The Straw (Fieldtown), The Rose Tree and Bonny Green Garters (Bampton). The audience were delighted to see us and cheered us on raucously. The only blemish on a great spot was Keith being nipped by an over-excited dog (on a lead but with an irresponsible owner).
Our dance spot was followed by a Mari Llwyd parade and most of us then took part in a procession along the road and then back to the orchard for a noisy wassail followed by a fire display.
At this point Alex Heney was ready to leave but found his car was blocked in. We tried announcements over the p.a. and asking all and sundry if they owned the car. After an hour or so we finally found the owner (in a cottage near to Shepherd’s shop) and Alex and Jen were able to leave to go and celebrate his birthday.
The Wassail continued well into the night and was the busiest one they’ve had, several hundred people there. We had a great reception and featured heavily in social media posts from the folk who’d been there. If only the parking was easier.
Words by Nigel.
(You might also enjoy the article at this link, and also this short film of the event on Vimeo)
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