Industrial quantities of tea and toast courtesy of Tom and Jill started proceedings at the Drama Hall at Yateley Manor School. Blooming noisy as morris friends swopped news and views. Two coaches each with a full Yateley side aboard set off promptly into the some what gloomy weather.
After a chorus of “Wrong bus” directed at a hapless Ellington lass, Tour 1 departed for the delights of Farnborough, arriving at the The Tilly Shilling – Wetherspoons just as the drizzle started. However, the men and ladies piled into Wetherspoons, no doubt attracted by the prospect of reasonably priced beer, and they weren’t disappointed. ONCE THEY HAD BEEN SERVED.
There was a surprisingly large number of breakfasters drifting in and out, but few stayed to watch as the drizzle continued; a few hardy souls persevered including a couple of families with young children and one gentleman who seemed keen to attend our taster evening (yay!). Honking from souped-up hatchbacks and white vans was some encouragement. At the prospect of a beerless afternoon some of the Moulton lads were seen to disappear on the hunt for an off-licence, shortly returning with heavy carrier bags.
The rain stopped and we decamped to The Meads Shopping Centre where a craft market was running, although business was slow. Some punters stopped to watch, and yours truly told them what the event was all about (a bit surprising for the two aged Nepalese gentlemen); the Air Cadets collecting for RAFA were amused, the JWs at their bookstand were impassive.
It seemed a bit early to break for lunch, but by about a quarter to twelve we were on our way to Upper Froyle for lunch at the Hen & Chicken, Froyle, Hampshire, where a very satisfactory sandwich buffet awaited us. Not for the first time, some of the carnivores among us were jealous of the fare provided for the veggies; hot samosa, I ask you!
Sated and replenished, the four sides paired to the beer garden and amazed a young family who had stopped for lunch on their way from Kent to Pembroke and the lady who runs the antique furniture shed before setting off for the highlight of the day, a ride on a steam train.
Back on the bus, the Squire-cum-Tour Guide’s revealed that we mustn’t catch/the train at the platform when we got to The Watercress Line, Alton, that would be a nasty diesel, we were booked on a lovely steam propelled train at two-twenty. A limited refrain of “psihticoof” followed from those of a certain age.
The afternoon had brightened up by the time we were on the platform, and there were many more people around to watch as the sides showed off their skills in turn. Then it was all aboard; and to general delight a real ale bar was discovered at the rear of the train.
At Medstead the Yateley Men leapt off for a truncated Highland Mary (Bampton) and leapt back on whilst imploring the guard not to blow his whistle quite yet. On arrival all sides performed to the small crowd in the car park, who included one couple all the way from Austria and another all the way from…Yateley.
We made good time on the way back to Yateley and beat Tour 2 back to tea and cakes to get the cream of the confections!
Concerns about space for the coach were unfounded and we piled into the morris friendly Barton’s Mill – generous landlord provided beer (thank you!). Small but delighted audience enjoyed lots of mass Cotswold dances as the sides warmed up. A short riverside walk to the excellent and informative Basing House welcome centre to support their ‘Tudor Day’. Lots of dancing in and outside the barn, songs as well making use of the excellent acoustics of the massive barn. Happy family groups stayed and watched the extensive dancing…so extensive we forgot to wander the actual ruins…next time!
Back on the coaches and off to Rotherwick where we enjoyed some border with the company of Hook Eagles and their Canadian guests Orange Peel Morris. A good lunch – mini samosas particularly good – and a few dances mainly for ourselves.
Milestones Museum next, another great venue – a sort of aircraft hanger with an imagined Hampshire townscape and artefacts within. Lots of volunteers in period dress manning shops etc. Lots of dancing and lots of mass dances kept us all on our toes, the family audiences really enjoyed the spectacle. Fool narrowly avoided a smock disaster with traction engine grease and also christened a magnificent new telescopic feather duster.
Sun out by now, off to the welcoming Spencer’s Wood Carnival – free beer! Spring Grove vanished en masse to the Big Wheel – much waving and hollering. Lots of dancing and impressive mass dancing. Good crowds and happy fooling with microphone.
A leisurely drive back to Yateley for the loos (free beer, you see…). A great tour, in great company with lots of relaxed opportunities to dance together – consolidating the almost family connections between these sides.
Tea and cakes time in the Hall. Even noisier by now, hubbub level… Yateley Fool inexplicably practicing a dance with Mayflower.
Tour 1 destinations = Tilly Shilling 10:00 – 11:00 / Queensmead Craft Fayre 11:05 – 12:00 / Hen & Chicken, Upper Froyle 12:15 – 13:15 / Watercress Line RAT 13:30 – 16:15
Tour 1 players: Kennet / Mayflower / Moulton / YMM: Rod (M) + Chris B (M) + Andy Y + Tom + Paul + Gareth + Tim + Don + Peter + Greg + Rob
Tour 2 destinations = Bartons Mill 10:00 – 11:00 / Basing House 11:10 – 12:15 / Coach & Horses Rotherwick 12:30 – 13:30 / Milestones 13:45 – 14:45 / Swallowfield Carnival 15:00 – 16:00
Tour 2 players = Ellington / Spring Grove / Thames Valley / YMM: Steve (M) + Chris C (M) + Andy P + Andy A + Ryan + Ian S + Ian Y + Bryan + Ross + Baz
Artistes: Rod Crane, Steve Betts, Chris Chapple, Chris Bartlett, Tim Lloyd, Rob Acreman, Don White, Bryan Howarth, Baz Crossman, Ryan Cooper, Gareth Brown, Peter Stapleton, Ian Sutherland, Greg Bramwell, Andrew Young, Ian Young, Andrew Armitage, Andy Pobjoy, Paul Lethbridge, Ross Healey.