Tales from the Road: The English Ale
I’m writing this on the plane as we leave Adelaide and head towards Melbourne. I had planned to post a regular blog but things became really busy, really quickly!
The English Ale festival was amazing. We started early joining a few of the Morris sides at the local pub for some dances before people gathered at the Mylor Hall. The scene could have been from any English Morris festival. Sides dancing to accordion, fiddle, drum and flute; May pole dancing, cider, sunshine, laughter and singing. A wonderful day. And as dusk fell, so we gathered in the field opposite the venue beside three giants, as the ‘Obby ‘Osses chased and masks were placed. The sun set, and torches were lit for the procession to the Wicker Man. I was honoured to have been asked to lead the procession with Cerri, so with dancers flowing, and about 200
people behind, we slowly set off. Again, as I looked back and saw the torchlit procession it could have been from Lewes, Hastings, Padstow, yet here we were in Australia with some of the most passionate dancers I have ever met.
We arrived at the Wicker Man and formed a great circle. Then a horn was blown and I turned and declared peace in the east. I then walked sunwise (which in the southern hemisphere in anticlockwise) as peace wasdeclared in each direction (with fire in the north). The differences feel completely right
when here on this land. Drums started as a rope fire puppet began to dance around the circle, finally falling, and embracing the Wicker Man, setting him alight. An awesome sight that I’m sure we will being back with us to the UK!
More Morris followed, but I made my way back to the hall as the evening music was about to begin. The concert went really well with some amazing harmonies coming from the audience during The Wheel an Wild Mountain Thyme. I felt humbled to come half way around the world to find people who knew my songs.
It was an amazing day and it all felt really familiar, and the dancing a music was performed with a love and passion that showed a deep love and respect for English traditions. I was incredibly moved by what I saw, and all of the sides would have been at home at the Hastings Jack in the Green festival. I took some video clips during the day and dropped them into a little video that you can find here
I’d hoped to do regular blogs during my tour, but time and Internet connections have made that difficult, but I’ll keep trying!!