Saturday 8th October 2011 – Red Shoot Beer Festival, Linwood.

The Meddlars had never danced at this traditional New Forest Inn before, www.redshoot.co.uk , and we weren’t sure how we would do at a beer festival but we turned up ever hopeful. The weather was good and there were many people (and New Forest Ponies) milling around so we set up and just got going!

We had to dance mainly on the road but no one seemed to mind waiting to get by. There were a few people outside the pub who stayed to watch and it wasn’t long  before a good audience had accumulated. Even those who didn’t want to leave their tables inside, were knocking on windows asking people to move over so they could see! So, despite not having danced for a few weeks we were encouraged on and did rather well, if we do say so ourselves.  

Our offerings included ‘East Acton Stick Dance’, ‘Goldfish’, ‘Fiddlers Lock’, ‘White Ladies’ and The Upton on Severn Stick Dance, all of which were most appreciated. We received cheers and applause with every dance, photos were being taken by everyone and a number of people wanted to have their photograph taken with us! Consequently, we just had to do our audience participation dance ‘Five Hand Reel’, and there was no shortage of willing helpers - all adults too – excellent!

 

One lovely group of tourists who I believe were from the Maldives, had heard about this strange English tradition but had never seen it so were particularly pleased for us to have turned up - it was good to know we’ll be going to such faraway places even though it’ll be as a memory, photograph or conversation.

Exhausted but very happy, we finished our set and were shocked to hear the word ‘Encore’ emanating from our lovely audience! This took everyone by surprise as it’s not something that happens often (if ever). In fact Bob, our Squire, commented that it’s more usual for the audience to want to get us off rather than ask for more!

So, we squeezed out a final ‘Not For Bob’ before going to the bar for a very well deserved pint of something golden and good. While at the bar, and enthused by our success, we asked if we could do another set and the landlady was more than happy to say ‘yes’. We had to liaise with the band who were just about to start and agreed we could dance while they had a break.

Having arranged this, we started to wonder if it had been the right thing to do as everyone had obviously gone back inside to partake of some ale and listen to the band. However, we stalwart (or just plain thick) Morris Dancers took our bells by the sticks, and hoped for the best.

Bob was on guard to watch for our slot and had us spring back into action the moment the band stopped. Luckily, as we did so, our fab audience came piling back out of the pub to watch again. The second set was shorter as the band had to start again but we had enjoyed such a good afternoon that it was no problem. We naturally hope that the Red Shoot Inn will have us back again next year - and we also hope that amazing audience will be back too! This was a fine way to end what has been a challenging season in so many ways but proves that the Meddlars are here in the New Forest, to stay – Well Done Us!!