Now the evenings are drawing in and the temptation’s coming to hunker down on the sofa with a nice box set, a local men and women’s Morris dance side is encouraging us to fight off the winter blues by taking up a new hobby.
Practising weekly from September to April in Twyford - within easy reach of north Oxford, Bicester, Buckingham and Aylesbury - Owlswick Morris dances in the Cotswold tradition.
“It’s really satisfying to learn a new skill” says Squire (Morris-speak for ‘leader’), Ben Walter.
“Our live music is terrific so you can’t help wanting to dance. It’s good exercise too, of course!”
Beginners are made very welcome and get lots of support from Foreman Steve Wynn.
He’s been dancing almost 50 years so he knows what he’s doing by now! (That’s 47 years more than their youngest member, a 17-year-old Twyford lad who came for a few months as part of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and became hooked.)
The hard work dancers put in over winter is rewarded by a summer of jollity, often accompanied by non-dancing family and moderate amounts of beer (though this, contrary to the stereotype, isn’t compulsory).
Weekly pub dance-outs are followed by sociable music and song. Performances at fetes and festivals include Towersey, a festival co-founded by Denis Manners, the side’s original inspiration.
They also welcome chances to share their enjoyment of Morris with dancers from other traditions: the 2018 programme featured evenings with Les Etournias, from France, and Buckinghamshire’s Barefoot Belly and Stony Steppers.
Anyone who thinks this sounds a fun way to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder is invited to come and try it at Twyford Village Hall (MK18 4HE) on any Tuesday, from 8.30 pm. For more information email the Secretary, Penny Woods: firstname.lastname@example.org, or see www.owlswickmorris.org.uk and Facebook.