New Zealand Morris dancers and musicians frequently visit and dance in England, often teaming up with fellow Kiwis for mini 'tours,' all of which are memorable for those involved.
But as a national body we had not travelled further than Tasmania. That was a daring thing to do in 2009, when our Tasmanian fans felt they ought to host us for a change. It was during that very successful annual Tour, that my friend Helen and I mused on what else was possible.
The obvious next step was England and we set out to make it happen, she and I. Somewhere along the way her circumstances re-directed her energy elsewhere, but she and her husband, Richard were still able to join The Lammas Tour. Thirty six New Zealanders - some from the Western Islands (Australia) - were joined in England by camp followers for a week of dancing and sight-seeing.
Ideas - dreams - start big:
they are broad in scope; limitless. But there have to be limits. Early on, Helen and I knew that we wanted to base this tour on the way our group already does things here in NZ. A week at the most meant dismissing long-distance travel. Elwin's and my connections with Oxford made a starting point for a Cotswold Morris pilgrimage teamed with historic and cultural excess.
By the time we had settled in to the Centenary Lodge, at Youlbury Activity Centre on Boars Hill, this Welcome meal was welcome in more ways than one. But the over-riding sentiment was wonder that we were all here together on the other side of the world.
Dancing began that night with a dance from the Bucknell tradition, Saturday Night On in the Bucknell Village Hall.
I only remembered once we were all there, with extra visitors along as well, that this wasn't just a four year old dream realised but had been a whimsical thought when I used to practise with Bucknell Morris (now defunct) in that hall over twenty years ago. New Zealanders take liberties with the dance but often begin a get-together with it en masse. Well it wasn't just me that felt the rapture: Saturday night set the vibe for the rest of the week.
Wolvercote Green, and the hospitable Plough inn are not as far as I know, associated with a Cotwold Morris tradition, but Wolvercote does have it's own current Morris side,