Chronicles 2011

This is a our weblog - a rolling record of our year.  It would be more than a bit tedious if this was only ever the view of one or two people so we heartily invite you to contribute to the "Kemp's World" Chronicles from your perspective.  No need to register - just add your comments to the events below.  If you've got photos to add, we'd love to see them - attach one or more to your comments.  If you have video of us on YouTube, we'd like to laugh at that too - drop the link(s) in your comments.

The New Inn - Horning

Place holder for the New Inn

Please add your contributions below:

The Fisherman's Return - Winterton

Place holder for the Fisherman's Return

Please add your contributions below:

The Dog Inn - Ludham Bridge

Our visit to the Dog had it all - thunder, lightning and the first really torrential downpour of the summer.  Not to be deterred, members of Kemp's dripped in over the course of an hour and joined the heaving mass of holiday-makers in the bar.  The temperature and humidity rose to such a point that it was all but raining indoors and many chose the relative comfort of an umbrella outside.

As is so often the case, these sort of evenings are what you make of them; the crowd wanted to see some dancing, a brighter interlude approached from the West and we had a good number of dancers - so we set to dancing - to loud applause.  A single extended set rather than our more customary two short bursts sufficed.

Heading indoors as the rain made a determined reappearance, we made ready for a few tunes.... Only one thing could be more annoying than incessant rain and that is a drunk with a guitar; this one had been "entertaining"  continuously from before we arrived so presented a bit of a challenge.  We thought a quick blast of Princess Royal might encourage him to take it in turns but no, he just played louder.

Just as we reached that "sod it" moment and made for the door somebody must have nobbled him because it all went quiet...  well just a few tunes then.  The beer and sandwiches came out, the band played continuously until 11pm (at the request of the audience I hasten to add - nothing worse than a drunk with a melodeon is there?) and we had lots of friendly conversations with people enjoying their holidays.

All in all, a really enjoyable evening.  Many thanks to Geoff and Lorraine for their kind hospitality.

Please add your contributions below:

Coldham Hall - Surlingham

Place holder for Coldham Hall

Please add your contributions below:

The Crown - Banningham

Another brilliant evening at the Banningham Crown; no wonder we make a point of visiting twice each year!  Always a warm welcome, always an enthusiastic audience, always fantastic sandwiches and a contribution to the pot.  This particular visit also bolstered by the barrel of "Worth the Wait" shipped in from our sponsor, Beeston Brewery, for the occasion!

Weather was looking pretty foul for most of the day but brightened up into a lovely mellow evening.  Dancing got going at a fair ol' lick with enough of us there to give the great unfit a breather between dances.

What I like about this stand is the conversations you get into (first met Win here four years ago and look where that ended up); lots of people wanting to talk about the dance, the dancers and the music; lots of people with very long memories... "isn't that a different melodeon to the one you had last year?" - strange but true!

Dancing concluded with the obligatory "Bonny Green Garters" - extended to take in a circumnavigation of the rose garden - then on to an impromptu instructional for the benefit of two lads that fancied a go at being Morris Men!  Chips and sandwiches, more beer, a few tunes and home.  Back on Boxing Day.

Please add your contributions below:

The Maltsters - Ranworth

A pretty dismal evening really rescued by the presence of a very keen young dancer (who'd seen us at Sprowston Fete and badgered his Mum into bringing him out to see us again) and the welcome appearance of a new musician who was willing and able to add some brass.  Well done Joel - Welcome to Norfolk!

Please add your contributions below:

The White Horse - Neatishead

This is one of those pubs that we really like and a dance stand that we look forward to each year.  A "proper village pub" that also happens to do food!

The White Horse is placed on a blind double bend and is right on the street so dancing (and indeed, spectating) here is always a matter of one ear open for approaching traffic and hoping for the best.

We had great weather for the evening and what must be one of the most appreciative and "up for it" audiences of the year so far; villagers, holiday makers, Norfolk locals out for the evening, pub staff and the swifts screaming overhead all added to the mix.

Dancing in these circumstances is always great fun and a real treat - made all the better when the youngsters are out for a laugh as well.  Special thanks go to the lovely Lilly for being an exceptionally enthusiastic "rose" and to our visitor from Germany who took her introduction to strange English customs in good humour - not quite sure how she'll explain them to her parents mind you.

Please add your contributions below:

Lobster Potties Festival - Sheringham

Place holder for the Lobster Potties

Please add your contributions below:

The Bird in Hand - Wreningham

A seriously good evening had at the Bird in Hand.  Probably our largest and most enthusiastic audience so far this year; this most likely due to Pat's arm twisting in his home village - an invite with menaces I think.

Driving into the car park... we witnessed an example of what I suppose must be called Normal for Norfolk parking... some chap squeezing his car into an impossibly small gap between two others in a car park full of spaces.  However, I digress... driving into the car park we were greeted by a large sign declaring "Worth the Wait" - a promising start when the publican orders in a barrel of our sponsor's beer from Beeston Brewery.  Hopefully the audience would think of Kemp's this way as well.

Dancing got off to a brisk start with Salty at the helm for a stack of well known tunes and dances. Tim, having recovered from a funny turn, took over part way through and called for a load of less familiar tunes and dances and a fair bit of head scratching.  

The return of Luke to the side for a flying visit was a welcome distraction and cause for some amusement (read why here and imagine the scene). Perhaps throwing him into Starry Night for a Ramble was a little unkind (but very funny).

Landlady, Lizzie, sent out jugs of Worth the Wait at half time and this was much appreciated by all.

Good weather all evening ensured that we stayed out dancing and playing tunes until a slight nip in the air finally drove us inside... just for a few tunes before heading home. A few turned into quite a lot as the audience didn't throw any rotten fruit or complain too loudly.  Stewy, Salty and Gary had a go with their vocal cords and the Koblenz "bad boys" gave the Bluebell Polka a good thrashing in memory of a boozy weekend in Germany

Time to go home (and get it in the neck for being late); thanked Lizzie for getting in the Worth the Wait, "No problem", she said, "it's selling very well - we're on the second barrel"!

Please add your contributions below:

The Ferry House - Surlingham

Kemp's haven't danced at the Ferry House for a lot of years so, for those of us that are new in the Faith, this was an opportunity for a first visit to a lovely spot on the Yare, to dance a bit and soak up the evening sunshine.  Unfortunately, the only soaking up available was a little more literal as we, once again, dodged the showers and tried to keep the instruments dry.

However, our small but appreciative audience where kept entertained for as long as possible and when we did move inside we managed to rattle through a good few tunes in quick succession and were treated to more of Stewy's "Hot Tea" and Richard's "Roving".  Only two customers beat a hasty retreat at this point claiming they were "going anyway" so this must be counted something of a success.  Applause from the customers is always nice when you've spent hours slaving over a hot (insert instrument of choice) so it was gratifying to get some here.

The rain eased and we had a final bash at the dancing but eventually had to succumb to the delights of Sonia's sandwiches and bowls of chips (very much appreciated as always) and head back indoors.

Please add your contributions below:

Sprowston Fete - Norwich

The "British Standard Summer" featured prominently in the dance programme for our visit to the fete: fine one moment and a deluge the next.  Bert's pictures below give quite a good representation.

The driest spot was undoubtedly the beer tent in more ways than one.  There was trouble with the power to the till and no beer was being served.  This is, of course, second only to the end of the world for a Morris Man.  However, all was not lost - a few tunes and wiggle of the wires later and the till sprung into life.  Beer was available just in time for the next downpour.

The dancing did eventually get underway minus a few through injury, Tim through a funny turn and Karl who, having a memory like a sieve and not reading his email, had forgotten the event and gone to watch his bird somewhere.


Readers will not be surprised to learn that we spent the greater portion of the afternoon dancing at the aforementioned beer tent ready for a quick dash inside when the rain started its next lashing.

One of the good things about dancing at fetes is that you get to meet some very nice people.  Thanks Lyndsay for being an excellent rose and commiserations for once having had Bert as your teacher.

Please add your contributions below:

The White Horse - Chedgrave

Imagine a perfect English summer’s evening. The sun sinks in the west. The air is warm. On a barbecue sausages sizzle. The air is full of mouth watering aromas. Blackbirds are singing and there is well kept cask conditioned ale. Families and friends sit round tables in the garden of a well appointed country inn…………..

What could spoil it and yet be in keeping with the scene?  Wasps?  Mosquitoes?  Hells Angels?  No!  Morris men!

Come on give us our due! We do forewarn those who are morris-phobic where we are going to dance and when!  That’s why we publish our programme! On Wednesday 15th June we were at the White Horse, Chedgrave! And to give the landlord and people of Chedgrave their due, we were warmly and hospitably welcomed - free beer and a complimentary burger will always meet with our approval!

OK we started late!  That’s part of the tradition!  And anyhow many of the men had cycled out from the city!  The dancing was memorable for a rendition of the Norwich-upon-Wensum dance Trunch Bypass, which on this occasion seemed to have a contra-flow system in place and an elderly erratic dancer going the wrong way down a one way street!  During the consequent attempt to disentangle a multi-dancer pile up, the Rev’d Canon Phillip Mc Fadyen was heard to mutter “We all like sheep have gone astray!”  Quite so!

On the musical front our musicians achieved an amazing first – a picture of which can be seen below! In the photo Greg Snell,  our resident fiddle scraper, can be seen playing the invisible violin!

As a final treat for the people of Chedgrave the evening ended with a strip tease. Those who had arrived by bike removed their moleskin breeks, replaced them with lycra and pushed off into the night!


Please add your contributions below:

The Crescent - Norwich

Place holder for the Loose Canon's Garden Party

Please add your contributions below:

The Gamekeeper - Old Buckenham

Lest anyone should consider Morris Dancing a past-time for namby-pamby, hanky-waving softies, I have to point out that our stand at the Gamekeeper maintained our tradition of exacting a terrible price on our dancers.  "Elf and Safety Mike" followed on from the knee-capping of Steve and Gary's "I don't remember a thing" incident with a mid-dance tearing of muscle and ligaments - good job we currently still have an NHS to patch them all up!

Injuries aside - this was a really enjoyable evening.  The audience wasn't huge but Tim managed to secure the services of rent-a-mob and, together with some local residents, they formed an appreciative crowd. Not quite sure what the horse made of it all as it was dragged, for some inexplicable reason, through the middle of the set with a sharp thwack of a riding crop but then, this is almost into Suffolk so I suppose you should expect strange things to happen.

We also experienced another first for Kemp's - an inability to finish the plate-loads of sandwiches and bowls of chips provided by our very generous hosts!  It was a bit like the feeding of the five thousand - everywhere you looked there was another plate of sandwiches - absolutely brilliant.  We moved indoors as it started to spit with rain for a few tunes, a few songs and... a few more sandwiches.

Many thanks to the landlady and her staff - I hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we did.

Please add your contributions below:

The Wig & Pen - Norwich

Always a good sign when the landlord greets you at the door and hands out beer vouchers!  Well done Craig - you obviously know how to get Morris Men dancing more vigourously.

The Wig & Pen is our "home pub" and is always a good dancing spot with outside seats for the audience and a good surface for the dancers.  On this occasion I'm pleased to say there were plenty of both although some of the dancers were a bit lacking in the health and fitness department.  Steve appeared on crutches still nursing the injury sustained at the King's Arms, Gary arrived in a somewhat bruised and confused state having had (yet) another bike-related altercation with a motor vehicle  (a feat that is becoming so familiar that some have said he is an attention seeking adolescent) and the Loose Canon turned up minus the dog-collar and managed a splendid 30 seconds of dancing before running out of puff.  You will be pleased to note that all three managed to drink beer!

This evening's event was part of the "Norwich - City of Ale" festivities and Craig's contribution was to stock more than 20 dark / mild / stout style beers from local brewers - our sponsor, Mark Riches from Beeston Brewery, was well represented with the excellent "Norfolk Black".

Kudos to the musicians for playing louder and louder as what appeared to be the entire Norfolk Chapter of the Hell's Scooter Brigade decided to do a full-throttle ride past; kudos to the dancers for keeping going even when they couldn't hear the music and kudos to our latest brilliant "rose" (see the video in the comments section).

Please add your contributions below:

Red Lion - Bishop's Bridge

Dancing at the Red Lion was always going to be a bit of a gamble - tucked away in a lovely corner of Norwich but well away from the tourist routes.  

If I was trying to keep my involvement in the Morris a secret then that was blown out of the water as two blokes from work jogged by - I suggested they stopped for a beer but I suppose it would have interfered with the fitness regimen: "Ho-Hum " says I as I swallow another gulp of beer.


The evening was pretty much characterised by the looks of bemusement on the faces of the passers by - ranging from individuals making a rapid walk towards home to a pack of cubs.  We managed to block the bridge at times - amazing how some people can  pass something as overtly ridiculous as Morris without a sideways glance or raising a smile...


... the same can not to be said of our two lovely visitors from Eastern Europe: I'll call you "the Svetlanas" because I can't remember your names.  You were great sports and joined in the fun - if you happen to read this, please remind us of your names!

By the end of the evening the biting insects were rising from the river and we concluded with a Kemp's first - a two-man Bonny Green Garters that eventually became three, then five, then six - very strange.

Please add your contributions to the comments box below:

King's Arms - Reepham

Packing the wet weather gear seems to be standard practice as far as the British summer is concerned so seeing the drizzle on the windscreen was no great surprise but very irritating none the less.  Strangely, and against all expectations, the sky brightened as we approached Reepham and the sun came out with the downing of the first pint.

Kemp's bright yellow posters were displayed on  windows and in the bar so this was a good omen and, sure enough, the welcome was enthusiastic from a landlord who made a point of being part of the audience throughout the evening. 

Somewhat alarming was the distinct lack of Kemp's dancers.  Golden Star were in abundance and organising their dances on their little wooden board and being very efficient.  Kemp's consisted of Steve and me (how many solo jigs can I play for?)!... then Bert and family, Tim and, eventually, pretty much everyone else turned up - fashionably late but reliable as always.

Dancing was turn and turn about with Vandals and Bonny Green done en masse. The audience made it from the pub to just outside the pub without too much difficulty.  One gent apologised for the fact that the whole of Reepham had not turned out to watch and join in (expletives deleted) - "You can't get more English than Morris Dancing can you?".

Somewhere in amongst all this Steve managed to pick up an injury and was incapacitated for the rest of the evening.  We played more tunes and drank more beer and I had the strange experience of one of the Star girls throwing herself at me and ending up in a heap at my feet - I think it must have been the beer.

All in all, a brilliant evening - one for a return visit next year perhaps.

Please add your contributions below:

King's Head - Brooke

Greeted by just two rather surprised looking bods in the pub smoking shelter - this looked to have all the makings of a fairly dull evening.  The pub turned out to be more of an eatery and I'm not totally convinced that loud Morris stuff was what they really wanted to have annoying the diners!  Certainly not the place to "play a few tunes" in the bar!

However, the rain held off and a growing number of the usual Kemp's followers and an assortment of other visitors seemed to enjoy the dancing well enough.  Those that danced were just about crippled by the end having roughed it on the bone-dry and very uneven back lawn. 


Bearing in mind that the purpose of the visit was to celebrate Tony's 90th once again and to acknowledge all those occasions when he drives miles to support the side when we dance in Norwich and points North and East, the evening was a success with most of the side there to make the point.  Dancing "Strictly Gomme Dancing" was a fitting tribute and, much to everyone's surprise, both musicians and dancers managed to get everything in the right order and finish at the same time!

BUGA Festival - Koblenz

When they suggested going on a jolly, to jolly Germany, for a jolly weekend, what was a chap to do?  ...add to which we would be staying with old friends who happen to be wine makers of extra-ordinary generosity and Norwich City Council would be providing the transport. Without a moment's reflection I said, ”Yes”!

I’d gathered Kemp’s Men would be dancing at a sort of garden fete thing in connection with the Koblenz twinning committee.  Later I thought I might have been tricked into doing something odd when it was revealed it was the Bugger Festival ! - Sleepness nights ensued; what high jinks did they get up to at bugger festivals?

I need not have worried; it was the Bundesgartenschau – Germany’s answer to the Chelsea Flower Show - and I was to be a lonely little petunia in an onion patch amidst the disciplined ranks of Bundes Blooms.

Getting there was a bore. The coach was fine (well done Spratts of Wreningham ) and the driver (answers to the name of Andy) was brilliant too! The only thing worth mentioning on the outward trip was the music session under the channel...

...once the coach was parked on the train we de-bussed, the band struck up some tunes and Postman Pat, another good old boy from Wreningham did a jig... an ode struggles to make itself known:-

    Beneath the sea, its deeps and shallows

    Box players squeeze their trusty bellows

    And Postman Pat starts a jigging

    Dishing up great "Lumps of Plum Pudding!

The funny thing is, although we were under the sea and not on it, Pat got sea sick -  and that in spite of the various health-giving potions fed him by the Naughty Boys on the back seat!

Rolling into Winningen felt a bit like coming home and there were our friends and the stalwart Waltrude Jarrold (Queen Bee of the Twinning Committee) waiting to welcome us. Having found our way to our billets, washed behind the ears and powdered our noses,  we hurried to the Fries residence. When we were royally fed and watered! No!  That is a vile calumny! We were not fed and watered! We were fed and wined!


(Kemp’s Men are proud to endorse the Moselle wines of our friends Reiner and Anke of Weingut Fries  and Gunter of Weingut Domgarten Hof  with the health and safety warning that too much of their excellent products causes some people to confuse the vertical and horizontal!)


Saturday was a delight. We visited the underground caverns of a disused Basalt mine in Mendig and drank beer from the subterranean Vulcan Brewery.  During a  little light busking in Mendig, Kemp’s discovered the new dance Raising the Anke (it’s much much like Fieldtown The Rose but with a German lady named Anke raised in the midst)!


Returning to the Moselle, the coach dropped us at the top of the valley and we walked through the vines of the Domgarten down a winding road to the village.  The sun shone, May blossom bedecked the trees, swallows flew high, barges and passenger boats on the river below looked like children’s toys! More busking and dancing by the Weinhex fountain brought the day's proceedings to a close.


That night we began the evening with a sparkling wine named after our host’s uncle, entertained our hosts at a great restaurant and ended the evening with a rare and special wine from late picked selected grapes made by our host’s father... far too good for a Philistine like me! But, O the privilege of drinking the nectar of the Gods!


Sunday was BUGA day! The sun shone and the waters of the Moselle reflected its light.  Andy dropped us off at Duetschers Eck, where the Moselle joins the Rhine,  and we removed the body of Snap, the Norwich Civic Dragon, from the bowels of the vehicle.  After a further 10 minutes of surgical intervention, Snap had his tail re-attached, a fresh set of legs inserted and he was off to the show with the Men! They left him snoozing behind the stage and took off across the Rhine by cable car to a detached area of the BUGA.  


Outside a strategically positioned café,  dancers and musicians had an opportunity to warm up and shake out the cobwebs (and Gary finally decided what dances we would do and who would do them).  Later they returned to the Koblenz side of the river and the out door stage. It was thoughtfully positioned beneath the hind-quarters of Kaiser Bill’s huge equestrian statue!

Getting a bit aggressive

During the afternoon Kemp’s performed 3 sets of dances in front of an appreciative audience. Snap cavorted and interfered with small children and ladies between the dances. Viewed from inside the dragon the dancing seemed to be of a good standard.  There were lines, the stepping was brisk, the leaps phenomenal and a good time was had by all.

Time to mention the other dancers -  street dancers they were, quiet and well behaved!


But could they perform?  Brilliant! They were. I suppose they thought Kemp’s were the supporting act and Kemp’s thought otherwise!  The dragon prefers young women to Morris men any day so his vote goes to the street dancers!  Whatever!  The point is...  Norwich was responsible for the entertainment that Sunday afternoon and young and old, traditional, modern, male, female and reptilian we delivered!

What a privilege it was to join in our twin city's big event? How warmly we were received? What an amazing ride it was across the Rhine by cable car? How good was it to sit in the shade of the trees, drink beer and eat sausage?


That evening we gathered at the Fries residence once again to eat pizza, play tunes, dance and drink wine with our Winningen friends.  Early in the morning there was a tearful farewell! We en-bussed for home and slept and dozed from Winningen to Wreningham!

Thanks to all who made it possible!


Spixworth Fete

A brilliant sunny day, an excellent beer tent and a traditional village church fete; what better way to start off our summer season?  The Bag had issued a three line whip to ensure that everyone was present and ready to dance by mid-day and all looked to be going well until... 

...Our dance spot was only a little delayed whilst the Foreman went off in search of the sticks that had been left in his charge (and subsequently left in his house).  Still, nobody seemed to mind too much and we visited the beer tent again.

Billed as a "St George's Day Extravaganza", George was there in all his finery and looking a little warm.  Likewise the particularly un-fierce dragon; he must have been roasting inside the fleecy suit. 

The fine weather had brought out many damsels, most of whom seemed to be accompanied by small children or tough looking blokes with tattoos thus leaving little opportunity for general up-chatting or acts of chivalry.  We kept a good look out for signs of distress but had to wait until the end of Bonny Green Garters before the lovely Sue managed to split the seat of her trousers, so energetically was she joining in the dance.  St George characteristically, and quite unfairly, beat Tony to the rear of the problem and offered to cover the embarrassment with his cloak.  Sue did look quite warm herself but this probably had little to do with the weather.

A dozen or so dances over two sets kept the fete-goers entertained and the side seriously in need of more refreshment.  The Squire gets the day's award for dogged determination as he very patiently waited in the queue for a burger.  Indigestion was the likely outcome as we started the second set as soon as the last mouthful was down.

John managed to leave his waistcoat unattended and there was some thought about removing all references to Woodside.

This was the first event following the introduction of the new web site and Will button-holed anyone with a camera and gave them a card encouraging them to contribute their photographs to the site (it's not difficult so how about sharing some of yours - see below). If this is successful, Will has got the job for future events; if not, we may have to employ persuasion with menaces - Bert perhaps.

Anyhoo... not sure what was in the beer but, most unusually for me, I have to go for a little lie down! - Paul

(c) Kemp's Men of Norwich - Sponsored by Beeston Brewery