Morris Dancers wear ribbons with rosettes and have bells on the legs and wave hankies in the air while they dance. The first thing I had to do in order to have any chance of fitting in with Oxford Morris was to create an outfit a bit like theirs. They call the straps around the body ‘baldricks’. I had to go shopping to buy the materials, and found a shop that sold everything needed in St Nicks Market, Bristol.
I found bias binding for the straps
…and bells for my legs.
The aim was to make something that looks a bit like this (Oxford Morris baldricks that I tried on while visiting a Morris Dancer, though a bit too big for me)
I set to work sewing, Hammering in the shed (I decided to use a stud that I found in the sewing box for the rosette)and I finally ended up with my Oxford University style Morris baldricks.I had a little practice at home before setting off to Oxford to join in with the May Day celebrations.
Then off I went to Oxford strapped into the back of the car wearing all the gear!We arrived at a very nice B & B – Lakeside Guesthouse, where rather conveniently there was a bed just for me in the room. I spent the evening relaxing there as May Day celebrations start very early in Oxford.On May 1st 2016 and I got up very very early. Here I am about to walk across Christchurch meadow…We were on our way to Magdalen Bridge to listen to the choir sing from the top of the tower at 6am. You can see the tower behind me in the distance in this photo….When we arrived at the bridge there were thousands of people there, including lots of Morris dancers and a tree, though I didn’t spot any other bears.At 6am the crowd went quiet and the sound of the choir filled the air. I could just about make out a few figures standing at the top of the tower. After the choir had finished singing, we all started to follow the tree as it walked up Magdalen St…The tree finally stopped at Radcliffe Square, and church bells started to chime. The Morris Dancers started to dance and play music.
I rather liked the round building on one side of the square.It is the Radcliffe Camera and is part of the Bodleian Library. The church bells ringing and Morris dancing went on for quite a while as the different ‘sides’ of Morris dancers took turns to dance and make music. After they had all danced, they moved on to another area. The most exciting bit for me though was outside St Johns College where I got to join in with a Morris Dance. I had to be carried around for health & safety reasons as I am a bit short to dance on my own (there is a big risk I might get trodden on with all the jumping up and down and leaping about waving hankies). My reward for dancing so well was breakfast with the Morris Dancers, which took place in another college (Oxford is full of colleges), St. Edmund Hall. The tree, known as Jack-in-the-Green, was having a sleep in the garden, so I posed for another photo with him.I was surprised to find that ale was being served with breakfast….After breakfast we set off again for more Morris dancing, and walked under the Bridge of Sighs……then onto the area outside a museum, The Ashmolean. Here I was given the very important job of looking after the tankards full of ale.I started to feel very tired. I had been up since 4.45am, my little legs were aching and I was finding it difficult to keep my eyes open. A Morris Dancer lifted me up onto the top of the sculpture, and I within moments I fell fast asleep.Looking forward to my next Morris dancing adventure when I will be meeting up with the Oxford Morris Dancers during their canoeing tour of the Wye Valley 🙂
Horace the Alresford Bear 2/5/2016