What a difference a few miles make! Swansea was cloaked in cloud for much of Thursday, but the forecast for our intended evening dance out at Kenfig was for uninterrupted sunshine, and so it was thus!
A dozen of us assembled at the Angel, and whilst there was hardly an audience to speak of at the start, after ten minutes there muse have been a good 20-30 bods watching us go through our repertoire of Adderbury, Bampton and Fieldtown dances, with Vandals and Badby thrown in for good measure and with Caseg Eira Nantgarw drawing applause. This pub is clearly a popular venue for diners as it offers a reasonable menu, and from our perspective, it also does tidy ale with a particular personal favourite of Butcombe Best being on offer, alongside the Doombar.
We moved on to the Prince of Wales just 300m down the road where there were several people sitting outside soaking up the evenjng sunshine. We managed to coerce several of them to dance Brighton Camp Adderbury, hopefully sowing seeds for future recruitment?
We were asked to visit the upstairs part of the pub where Ruby was celebrating her 18th Birthday. This we did and Ben danced a jig for her as Indon’t think the floor would have taken all of us dancing en masse!
A word about the room the party was held in. We were given a guided tour by the landlord during a previous pre COVID visit to the pub, where he explained the room was used by circuit judges to administer justice during medieval times. All interesting stuff and so was the Ale as they were selling Fuller’s London Pride which Paul was waxing lyrically about, and Bass, which Geoff reckoned was right tidy!
We wrapped up our dancing as a glorious red sun sank below the distant landmass of distant Gower which we will hopefully visit next Thursday (King’s Head & Britannia)!
‘Never mind the weather, As long as we’re together!’ is a line from a song and it seemed very appropriate to the Day of Dance which was hosted by Tipyn y Bopeth at the Wales Botanical Gardens at Llanarthne just east of Carmarthen. Weather was very fickle and torrential rain almost flooded the M4 when driving to the event.
Sweyn’s Ey were able to field a good team despite holiday absences and we had a strong force of three musicians with Sian, Kevin and Roger. It was great seeing Erin join us again for her first dance out since May Day! One of our members (Keith) danced and played music with Tipyn for the first half of the day, before donning Sweyn’s Ey kit and joining us for some dances. This versatility on Keith’s part drew positive comment from someone in a non local Welsh dance side! Nice to hear.
So, who were the other dance sides at this year’s Day of Dance? The aforementioned Tipyn Y Bopeth were there in some strength, as were Danswyr Talog from Carmarthen who danced with a contingent of youngsters which was good to see. Pontypool had a strong side and there were other dancers from Welsh dance groups in Caernarfon, Aberystwyth, Pen Y Fai, and Aelwyd Caerdydd.
Our own David Evans /Dafydd Evans did an excellent job managing and compèring the event, introducing each team’s dance in Cymraeg and English. Sadly he was not able to dance with us on this occasion as he was dancing with Tipyn.
Dancing was possible outside the Theatre for the first part of the day but eventually, with heavier blustery showers forming, we had to move indoors to dance, but Dafydd’s organisational skills had accounted for that eventuality.
We danced well, drawing mainly on the Adderbury & Bampton dances, but we were also able to do Fieldtown and Badby too. We danced Vandalls Lichfield which featured a bit of free form interpretation of the Hey by some, but I don’t think many noticed! Anyway, the photos will tell the story of the day, with several being taken by Andrea, some by Stewart and most by me.
Another highly enjoyable day out, although most of the side missed the considerable quantity of tea, sandwiches and cakes at the end of the event!
Words & Photos by Paul Tarrant, with photographic help from Stewart Wright & Andrea Jessup.
We were invited to dance at the Pennard Carnival again this year and we enjoyed a largely rain free day. We were driven to Kittle Green in a splendid vintage open top South Wales Transport bus which operated out of Ravenhill bus station back in the 70s and we did a time restricted dance set there. Memory confirms we did British Grenadiers, Speed The Plough, Vandals, Valentines and also Bonnie Green to finish but there may have been a couple of others that we did. Look closely at the photos and you may see Minnie Mouse who looked resplendent in her outfit.
We were next driven back to Pennard Stores at Fox Hole where the Carnival floats were gathering for the procession which set off promptly at 1:00pm. We were placed at the head of the procession, where we walked, with sticks in hand, for the better part of a mile. Unfortunately, we could not dance the procession due to recent injuries that had forced our musicians and some dancers to travel back on the bus. We would have found it very difficult dancing, trying to compete with the excellent tunes that the Full Phat Band were playing, just behind us!
We were introduced at the Carnival Field by the compere, did a victory lap of the field to polite applause from the appreciative crowd, and, after watching the award ceremony where the Hook Float deservedly won first prize, we made our way to a Tee Pee tent where we were directed to give our performance.
We danced Rose Tree, Country Gardens, Valentines and Brighton Camp which we followed with two sets for volunteers, eager to give the dance a go! A short, sharp, shower had pushed several people into the tent to watch us finish our set with Bonnie Green Garters. We met a lad who had close associations with Thaxted Morris Men, but sadly would not entice him to join us.
A good dance out at a well run carnival (hope we get invited next year) and some of us were well happy to be able to buy tickets for the excellent Disco Panther gig later in the evening!
Words & Pics by Paul Tarrant & some by Stewart Wright
We visited a new place on our recent dance out last Thursday. Swansea Observatory was a place once used by the local astronomical society to probe the far reaches of the Cosmos, but now it is a thriving cafe down on the sea front at Swansea Bay where locals and tourists alike can explore more earthly pleasures from the bar menu. It’s a very likeable place.
We were asked to dance on the terrace half way up the building, and the following photos show us dancing Rose Tree Bampton. Not many folk came up to watch but we enjoyed the challenge of dancing there, whilst keeping watchful eyes out for gulls which have been a recent source of menace to Messrs Dixon and Tarrant.
Following half a dozen dances, we attempted to dance on the promenade outside the Observatory, but the wind was just too strong and was blasting sand, painfully in our faces from the beach. We quickly realised that dancing would be impossible, so we ventured over to Dylan Thomas Square by the Pumphouse, where we danced several dances for a passing audience, and kept going until the clouds darkened and threatened to rain on us. Some ventured up to the Queen’s Hotel for a beer to finish the evening.
The internationally acclaimed actor, Johnny Depp played in a band at the Swansea Arena on the Friday evening, and after was very keen to visit No. 5, Cwmdonkin Drive, in Uplands. This was the birthplace of Dylan Thomas, and during the 1970s it was a student let. Some of Sweyns Ey Morris, who had formed the Pig’s Ear Ceilidh Band, held some practice sessions in No.5 and it was an atmospheric practice venue, knowing of the associations with Dylan. Sweyn’s Ey members (there were many others in the band including the late ace Accordion player Mike Stafford) who are remembered to have been in that band were John Jeater, MJ Searle, Olly Athelstan-Price, Darrel Hurt and Paul Tarrant.
Pics & Words by Paul Tarrant.
Sweyn’s Ey Morris danced out last Thursday. We did not have sufficient numbers who could make the Wednesday Solstice but we were close enough dancing the following evening!
We found the King Arthur at Reynoldston to be well crowded with people, eating and drinking there and many watched us dance our set of dances which lasted for over an hour during a sun drenched, warm evening. It really does not get much better than this.
Sweyns Ey Morris really like this pub as it has all the ingredients for a successful evening out with a good forecourt to dance on, lots of people, good Ale, with the ever special Felinfoel Double Dragon or some of the guest Ales, and one that caught my eye was the London Pride which rarely comes this far west!
We initially could only do hankie dances as someone forgot the sticks, but when these eventually arrived, all our dances went down well with the crowd. Highlights included Bampton Step & Fetch Her and Speed The Plough, Lichfield Vandalls of Hammerwich plus Sherrif’s Ride and Caseg Eira from Nantgarw.
We left in good time to travel up to Arthur’s Stone and it was great being able to walk over open mountain terrain without getting wet, the whole area being very dry following an absence of rainfall for over a month.
Despite the fact we had missed the actual Solstice, there were people up at the stone who came to watch. We did several dances from our Bampton and Adderbury repertoire, saw the sun set below a big wedge of cloud over the distant Preseli mountains of Pembrokeshire and then members of the side did some posed photo shots for Jo Randles, a professional photographer who took some very good pics of us a few years ago. Can’t wait to see those.
Another great Sweyn’s Ey dance out!
Words & Pics by Paul Tarrant
Sweyn’s Ey visited Llwchwr for our regular Thursday evening Dance Out on a pleasant, hot evening.
We visited the Reverend James for the first time and we speculated whether there was family connection with our Squire Ben James, but it turned out there wasn’t! The ale on sale was, you’ve guessed it, Rev James, and the landlord brought us out a huge refreshing jug of the stuff, plus iced water, before we had started dancing! There was a good crowd in the beer garden who watched us, with some keen to learn more about what we do, and some indicating that they may come along to practice in the autumn! A great place to visit and a return in the future is most definite.
We left the Rev. James and drove a short distance to the Boat Club which we have visited several times in the last decade, but not last year as The Queen sadly passed away just as we were driving to the venue!
The riverside location, the people, the ale, and the atmospheric sunsets have made it a perennial favourite with several in the side and our visit there Thursday was truly wonderful. Not only did we encounter much generosity from the crowd watching us there, (the fantastic landlady went amongst them rustling up monetary contributions in a jar) we found that the patio had been relaid nice and flat which made it a joy to dance on.
The DoomBar Ale supplied necessary hydration and the sunset on the dropping tide was manna for the soul!
Dance wise we did our usual repertoire of Adderbury stick dances, Bampton, and Fieldtown, plus dances from Badby, Lichfield, and Caseg Eira, the Welsh Morris!
A very good evening despite reduced numbers of dancers and musoes!
Script & Photos by Paul Tarrant, with some pics by Di Clark.
The side was invited to visit this annual event which was held at the Weobley Castle Farm on north Gower, with the site boasting incomparable views across the Loughor estuary and Cefn Sidan sands.
We were due to dance in the barn at noon which gave Kev, Keith & Paul the opportunity to visit Pat Smith’s excellent musical workshop which explored tunes known and not so known for a wide variety of instruments that people had brought along. There were some well behaved dogs there!
The Barn is where we danced, which conveniently provided cover from an irritating shower (only one in over a week!) and it also gave convenient access to essential supplies of ale and burgers and other food which helped supplement our two performances that we gave there.
During the second performance a lot more people came in to watch and many were given the opportunity to dance Brighton Camp which went down well.
We were finished by 2pm but all felt well tired, probably as it was very warm in the Barn. It was dusty too which is why some of my photos have those strange orb like artefacts in them!
This was an enjoyable festival, and those who stayed for the complete weekend certainly were treated to some great musical acts.
Another gloriously sunny evening saw Sweyn’s Ey Morris heading out to Killay in West Swansea. This is a particular favourite annual tour for myself and Geoff, as it is local to where we live and means we can walk – which in turn means neither of us have to be the designated driver.. Cheers!
We started out at The Village Inn in Killay precinct, where for much of the time we were watched by a grand total audience of one. Whilst we are always sad when our tremendous dancing skills are missed out on, this was augmented in part by Roger buying the entire side a round of drinks in celebration of Alison’s recent birthday just before we started. Happy birthday Alison B!
Our disappointing audience quickly turned into several more people, including a lovely couple who were utterly delighted to see us: “I was having a rubbish day and you’ve totally cheered me up” said the guy (or words to that effect…) So chuffed were we to have appreciative watchers that we did a few extra dances over and above what was planned. This was too much for one of Geoff’s bell pads, which decided to slip down right in the middle of some vigorous furry capers (probably – that’s an actual proper Morris term by the way). Fortunately with a subtle sideways shimmy, Ken saved the day and swapped in and back out again with Geoff, ensuring the show went on. Smooth.
Following a delightful photo shoot by the said appreciative couple, off we went to the Railway Inn, conveniently located right next to the Clyne cycle path ensuring a continuous stream of cyclist of all persuasions dropping by to sample the establishment’s top tipple. Livesaver comes highly recommended, proving beyond doubt that drinking beer really does save lives..
In the fading light we performed a good number of our side’s staple dances, alongside the wonderful y Casig Eira, an Actual Welsh Dance from Nantgarw. Our lovely audience clapped and cheered, took group photos with us and generally made us all feel warm and fuzzy inside. Well, perhaps not all of us. But it is always a good thing to know we have put a smile on people’s faces, despite the fact that we have to wear silly outfits and throw ourselves about in a jangly sort of way to do so.
When the light began to dim, the midges began to munch and the beer began to call, we retired to the safety of the gazebo and a few of us played some folky tunes and yarned with two lovely guys, one from Spain, the other from Bosnia, who said they’d had the best time. Drinks were offered all round and were taken up by some, before we said goodbye to what had been a wonderful evening.
(For the pedants amongst you, the dances we performed are in one of the additional photos on FB.)
Words and photos by Di (and a couple of randoms took the group shots).
What a lovely, fantastic day! We first went to Chippenham Folk Festival last year and so enjoyed it, we hoped that we would be re-invited to this year’s festival. We were invited, along with 58 other dance sides, and a fair dose of wall to wall sunshine, to make this a superb 50th Anniversary for the CFF.
There was an incredible diversity of dance groups from the folk world, covering all the different Morris/Molly, Welsh and English dance, Appalachian step, and Belly Dance traditions, all of which dazzled the good people of Chippenham town who were there and stood to watch.
Dance sides that particularly impressed were Hammersmith with their light hearted, but excellent dance style, Martha Rodens and Shropshire Bedlams with the latter looking like giants, and Seven Champions and their sister side. Bells Angels Border looked good as did a host of other sides, too many to mention.
So where did Sweyns Ey Morris fit in with all of this? The answer is they fitted in extremely well and gave a very good account of themselves! We were only able to muster 7 dancers due to holidays, and a few family birthday celebrations. However this did not not diminish what we were able to do.
We performed at three dance spots, as well as the main procession where we did a Speed the Plough variant, dancing right into the Festival Field where we impressed one of the organisers who include our dancing in their Facebook film! We mainly did Adderbury, Bampton and Fieldtown dances with a smattering of Badby Banks of the Lea.
Lichfield Vandals of Hammerwich was done with the aid of a bod from the crowd who looked suspiciously like ex dancer Jonathan Baker!
There’s no need to describe all the individual dances done, as several of the photos that follow will show them. Needless to say, by the time we performed our last dance at 4:30pm, we were well and truly beasted!
Big well done to Alison B who danced virtually every dance and to Stewart who soldiered on with a very painful hip. Big thanks to Sian, Kev and Roger B for playing their excellent music which is a joy to dance to.
One aspect of a festival like Chippenham is that you never know who you are going to meet there. We met lots of people who have had past associations with Sweyn’s Ey and it was great hearing Martin Hughes, and MJ Searle playing for sessions. Dave Lock, Julian Lander, Jonathan Baker, and Paul Rosser were there. Stephen Coad’s son was also there as well as John Mills’ daughter the latter two being dancers from over 50 years back!
Hopefully we will revisit this festival, and maybe get to stay, and make a weekend of it!
Photos by Paul and Stewart (more on our FB page).
We have not seen a lot of Ken Simpson recently. Ken was our Squire and fiddle player, joining the side in the 1980s, and being a regular until around 2012. Keith suggested that it would be a good thing to visit him during a Thursday Evening Tour, and so this we did, last night. Ken was totally in the dark about our intended plan to visit, although his family were indeed part of it, and there was an amusing moment in true ‘You’ve Been Framed’ manner when Ken realised there were some Morris dancers outside his house! ‘What the ‘eck are they doing out there!’ or something close to this was reportedly heard!
We were able to dance on his front yard, with his family and neighbours coming out to watch. Ken’s fiddle was duly brought out and he joined in with our band, playing tunes that we dance to on as fine an evening as you could hope to find.
We danced Lads of Bunchum, Constant Billy, Speed the Plough and Vandals of Hammerwich and Ben did a jig. Ken enjoyed the display and after, we reminisced about old days passed whilst Cheryl his daughter brought us beers and sandwiches. Long may your kettle boil Ken!
We next visited the New Inn in northern Clydach, a place we have visited in the past. The pub is idyllically sited in the deep valley where the Lower Clydach river flows through, what was once an area of intense coal mining activity. Add to that a large frontage at the pub, a couple of good ales, and most importantly, a receptive appreciative audience, and it is easy to see why it is a popular choice!
We danced British Grenadiers, Shooting Adderbury, Badby Banks of the Lea, Brighton Camp and we were able to dance Caseg Eira Nantgarw where Alison H & Alison B danced it for the first time in public! The small crowd outside (Ieauan the landlord and his wife drive folks out of the bar to watch us!) were impressed, and some wanted to join in, so we had two sets up of Brighton Camp, and it all went well!
We gave up dancing when the light started to go and bats started flying around, feeding off the midges of which there were a few feeding on us!
We were unable to get to the Millers, Ynystawe, but hopefully will go there another evening.
Lovely evening had by all.
Most of our blog posts are written by Paul Tarrant (our archivist), with occasional contributions from other members of the side. Each post goes up first on our Facebook page, alongside a lot more photos than we put on the blog. Check out our Facebook page right here if you want to see more!