Sandwich Folk & Ale Festival July 7 – 9

Friday July 7th

As this is our only festival this year we were all looking forward to a fun weekend away. Sandwich was a first for us and we had been specially invited by Wolfshead & Vixen after they spotted us at last year’s Wickham festival.

A Friday afternoon circumnavigation of the M25 led to staggered arrivals. As usual Rod was there at the crack of dawn to claim our spot on the campsite. Others appeared during the course of the day some with journey times of 2hrs and others of 4.5hrs. The early birds headed off into town in search of The Admiral Owen on the quayside which looked like a proper drinkers pub judging by the reviews. Beers were excellent including the bizarrely named Spratwaffler Pale Ale and the comfortable sofas led to a very relaxed evening.


Tim led a large posse off in search of the local chippy. Unfortunately on this occasion Google failed as the troop marched back into town for dinner and were gone for the best part of 45mins. Paul and Andy on the other hand simply asked the barman – ‘oh – the chippy is just around the corner’. 15mins later they were back – fully replete.

The next task was to find a jamming session and great joy ensued when one was found in The New Inn – Freehouse? The joy was short lived after the squire bought a pint of Green king IPA. Bad mistake! Note to all – avoid at all cost in future. Nevertheless, a fairly lively music session ensued. A brief stop at The Red Cow on  the way back to the campsite for some live folk music. A few stalwarts stayed up for whisky & port whilst most crashed and regenerated in anticipation of a busy dancing day to come.

Saturday July 8th

Something must be said regarding the sartorial elegance of Baz Crossman. Whilst most of us were displaying support for YMM on our T shirts, Baz was dressed in his Wimbledon away kit. White shorts, light top and white slippers (with matching white outlines in his specs). Baz assured us the footwear were shoes but we all know slippers when we see them!

The morning started well with the usual Tim and Co cooking up the bacon as supplied by Mr Young.

The squire managed to get us all to the first spot where we danced with a couple of sides and meagre audience, no doubt due to the early hour of 10.30. The morning was hot and to get hotter yet.

Although a hearty breakfast was had, hunger caught up with us and after much re-tracing of steps a contingent found a known chippy with al fresco facilities.

Throughout the day Max & Andy in Highwayman’s kit was nobly supported by the horse.

There were a couple of highlights during the afternoon session. The first was when the Fool and horse ran amok through the eating and drinking crowds ending up prostrate at the end of Beaux of London City. Some foolish woman knelt down to revive the fool with a kiss and you know what happened next.

The other highlight was the guest appearance by Trump Morris who had flown over all the way from Washington DC to appear at the festival. Their performance was received with much humour and plenty of smiles from the appreciative onlookers. We look forward to dancing with them again.

It is fair to say the standard of our dancing was of the highest order with one or two of the newer dances being the only exceptions. We were surprised and pleased that, having scanned the lists of attending sides, we assumed there would be limited Cotswold sides. However we seemed to be paired almost totally with either Cotswold or North West Clog dancers.

Retiring (such a well used word in YMM these days) back to the campsite at the end of a very hot day we had our usual BBQ steak and chip butties produced by the Youngs and the Bradys.

Those who had the energy wandered off to join some music sessions whilst the remainder being full of food declined the return leg into town and attacked the drink. Much merriment and mirth ensued until all finally retired(see, used again) to bed.

It was great to see the side well supported by our WAGs this weekend. Janet, Jill, Jinny, Jenn and Gisela all helped to make the day enjoyable. In all an excellent day’s sojourn to Sandwich, albeit 2 miles to have a paddle in the sea.

Sunday July 9th

The day started with the traditional communal breakfast having come to a resolution to the complex philosophical issue of whether eggs should also be served: oh, the existential trauma.

The day turned out to be even hotter that the Saturday so armed with gallons of water – nothing to do with the previous night’s indulgences – we set of for our first dance at 10.30 at the War Memorial, accompanied by the Tribal Banshees: Belly dancers whose sinuous motions stood in stark contrast to our own rude efforts.

The highwayman and his horse were seen attempting to interfere with the ladies but they were not too distracted.

Moving 200 yards up the hill to our next spot was a mixture of Border (Hunters Moon) and Cotswold – some good Border dances gave us a plenty of time to grab some water from the Spar next door – or some local Festival Ale – for the more adventurous (read barkingly insane). The Cotswold side gave a fantastic demonstration of how to walk on as a side by turning up with combinations of 3, 4 or 5 dancers and then spending the next 5 minutes looking for the missing members – and then swapping them for people who actually knew the dance – excellent!

Back down the hill to the market square where we joined Royal Liberty (a young side with some excellent energetic dances and jigs) – heat exhaustion now kicking in so off to lunch… which for most of us was an excellent Fish and Chips on the quayside.

Revived we went to out next spot at the Post Office to find neither audience nor other sides.. so, led by our indomitable Squire for the Day, Max, we went back to our first spot and joined the lovely Knots of May and a couple of excellent dancers who demonstrated Bacca Pipes where the expense of breaking pipes was avoided by using people instead (Gunther will be out danger soon we hope).

Our last spot was in the market with The Fabulous Fezheads I’ve no idea what they were or what they were doing – but they seemed to enjoy it.. The Thameside Mumblers who Tim helped by joining in with the words from a different play – don’t think he’d sobered up from the night before really. The Seven Champions Molly dancers to give another eclectic twist to the session…

And then it was over. Back to the campsite, pay the late departure charge (rats) and head off into the delights of the M25. Except for Rod, Tom and Tim who were staying another night for a more gentle departure.

It was good – we’ll be back…

Supporting cast:

Musicians: Rod.

Dancers:  Andy P, Baz, Ian S, Tim, Tom,  Andy Y, Ian Y, Max, Paul, Gunther

Partners: Jill B, Gisele, Jinny, Janet Y


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