Chepstow Wassail 2019

Our Guise team Boekka had a wonderful time at our 6th Chepstow Wassail this year.
On arrival at the room of Castle Inn I was delighted to be greeted by an old style four poster bed!

Most of us arrived on Friday and visited the Mythos Meze Greek restaurant before spending the rest of the evening at the fabulous Greenman Backpackers bar where they have a wonderful selection of gin. We sampled a few of them!

It was wonderful to see Linsey, Hannah, Sam and Lizzie the members of Beorma Morris who were once members of Wytchwood Morris who performed at the All Hallows Dark Gathering up until 2016. We have missed them.
Black Pig Morris
The gin was extremely popular!

Linsey brought us a gift of Amaretto marmalade and a home-baked cake as a thank you for inviting them to the Wassail.

 

We awoke to drizzling rain Saturday morning, but fortunately the rain had ceased by midday. At 1pm a meeting of the Maris was scheduled at the ancient and atmospheric Moot Hall in the Greenman Backpackers Hostel.

 

 

 

 

With 35 Maris and Beasts in the hall we ventured outside to get some air….

 

 

We also met a Mari/Beast with a difference…..

 

On our way back to the Castle, Morvargh stopped to see some little curious admirers…

 

 

The Wassail ceremony at the Orchard was wonderful. I encouraged our team to practice the Wassail song and they sang it well! There was a large crowd with a fabulous atmosphere.

 

We then joined the wonderful Morris dancers to watch their performance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made our way to the Drill Hall for the Mari Pageant. Waiting backstage next to the green room was quite a task with 35 Maris.

 

When we eventually appeared on the stage, Tim the Compere had his work cut out…..

 

After our appearance on stage we had a further wait backstage for the group photo. This provided a chance to have a good chat and a ‘catch up’ with the wonderful Phil and Viv Larcher.

The group photo on stage was rather a ‘squeeze’…..

From there it was time for Welsh and Cornish to gather at the Wye bridge to meet the English side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we met the English, the flags were exchanged and each Morris team performed a dance.
As Boekka are now performing Teazer dances again, Mike Lewis requested that we also performed a dance. I am pleased to say that it went well, Sam from Beorma complimented us on the performance and this was a valued compliment from such a good dancer.

 

 

…and there you have it…..an action packed day. Unfortunately there was an incident at the Chepstow Museum so we were not able to use it this year. I will end this post with a video of a performance of ‘Poor Owd ‘Oss’ with Linsey and Sam joining in with the ‘coconut shell’ percussion. A perfect end to an exhausting but wonderful day.

See the fabulous images of this event captured by th.e wonderful John Isaac here

 

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Chepstow Wassail 2018 with Mari Lwyds

Our guise team Boekka had a wonderful time at our yearly visit to Chepstow meeting the fabulous Mari Lwyds and friends once again. This year the temperature was a little warmer without the frost of 2017.
We arrived on Friday and spent the evening in the atmospheric bar of the historic Greenman Backpackers Hostel. A warm welcome awaits and the staff made a concerted effort to ensure their customers were comfortable and content.

 

 

 

 

Mike who owns the hostel is also a member of the energetic Widders Morris and organizer of the Wassail event. This is an extremely busy weekend for him.

The programme for the day began earlier this year as the Maris met outside the Greenman Backpackers Hostel before processing to the castle. They performed their usual banter and song to gain entry to the hostel and participated in traditional song as their voices echoed with the marvelous acoustics in the basement of the ancient building.

My ‘Oss Morvargh’s debut was at this event, receiving a copious amount of attention and admiration. Our good friend Phil Larcher, rider of the Mari Lwyd complimented me on Morvargh’s decoration which is praise indeed from one who has a strong connection with the spirit of the Mari, her primitive energy and history.

The procession through the town was downhill, but with the weight of an ‘Oss, a slow and steady pace is needed for the riders when walking through the wet cobbled streets.
After the procession we gathered for the Wassail by the ancient castle. We had a little time for preparation to bring out the Lands End ‘Oss Penkevyll. Her rider this year was an extremely fit and muscular Welshman and his family were delighted to see this. He was a tall  man, so Penkevyll had the best view of the event above the crowd.

 

John Isaac

We enjoyed performances by Widders Morris and Styx of Stroud. Morvargh danced to the music and I had a wonderful ‘work out’!

John Isaac

During the Wassail at Chepstow castle, Penkevyll remained on higher ground as the ground was extremely muddy due to a copious amount of rain in the days leading up to the event.

John Isaac

John Isaac

After the Wassail we made our way to the Chepstow Castle Inn where a Beauty Pageant had been arranged for the Maris. Penkevyll could not join us for this as she was too tall to enter the building.
Morvargh received a huge cheer from the audience on appearing and many journalists required information about her and how the ‘Oss connects with Cornish tradition. We informed them that owning an ‘Oss or a ‘beast’ has become a trend in recent years as many new ones have appeared in Cornwall. Penkevyll however was one of the first in West Cornwall after Penglaz in Penzance.

There were 21 Maris and ‘Osses in attendance this year, 10 more than last year. Even though the Beauty Pageant was arranged and each Mari or ‘Oss received a rosette they are so uniquely beautiful it would be too difficult to choose a winner. All of them were winners that day and a credit to their owners with the obvious hard work that had gone into their creation.
It was time for the meeting of the Welsh and English on the Old Wye Bridge by early evening. A projector screen was erected this year so that those who could not join us on the bridge were able to watch the ceremony. Boekka decided not to take our ‘Osses to the bridge as we took time out to enjoy this part without distraction. My apprentice Teazer had done a fabulous job assisting with Penkevyll and Morvargh during the day so we had earned the freedom to enjoy the atmosphere.

 

 

Scarlet certainly has the wild mischievous energy required for being a Teazer.
Our good friend Jason Semmens held our Cornish flag and did an impressive job of displaying it beside the Welsh and English flags.

After the bridge ceremony we arrived at Chepstow Museum for the Maris to once again sing their traditional Pwmco and gain entry. The handler of Mari Pontypwyl offered my apprentice Teazer the opportunity to guide her Mari into the Museum and I followed on as a guide. Earlier in the day Scarlet also had the opportunity to ride one of David Pitts smaller ‘Osses so it was an event full of new and delightful experiences for her.

The Chepstow Wassail event is a long and active day, but we enjoyed every minute. Team Boekka worked well together and I would like to thank Cassandra, Scarlet, our rider and John Isaac (who captured some fantastic images) for all their hard work.
Cheers to you all this Wassail season!

 

A New Year Begins…

The All Hallows Dark Gathering 2017 event in Boscastle was significant for me. I have trained and performed as a Teazer alongside Cassandra Latham Jones since 2009 and it was at Chepstow in January this year she handed over her snapper along with the position of main Teazer.
At this event I guide Penkevyll and stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place.  The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic as Penkevyll stand on the Welsh side with the Maris to meet the approaching from the opposite side to meet us at the centre of the bridge.
The St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and Boekka to take part in their procession at Redruth.  The procession is uphill where extra exertion is required when Teazing, interacting with the crowd and keeping an eye on Penkevyll’s antics.
The All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle is now a popular event. During the afternoon I build energy by moving to the music played for Morris dancers and connect with spirits of place from land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.

Image – Sarah Eykyn

 

This year I also rode my ‘Oss Morvargh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton with their new Mari Seren. Dancing with Morvargh is the ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvargh to dance with his Morris band while the team performed a dance about the sea. We worked well together and the audience enjoyed it immensely.
It was then time to take Morvargh back to our room and change into my Teazer kit. I prepared Penkevyll with the assistance of Cassandra and our rider. The procession led by the Maris made its way through Boscastle and the sound of throbbing drums meant it was time to appear with Penkevyll.

Image – John Isaac

 

Image – John Isaac

 

Image – John Isaac

Our space was rather restricted this year due to the fire display equipment for Mr Fox. Penkevyll danced and interacted with the audience until we observed the flaming torches of the procession.

We welcomed the Maris before guiding Penkevyll into the Museum for the Pwmco ceremony.
During this performance I was observed by my new apprentice Teazer. Scarlet is in her 30s and has a good connection with Penkevyll. She also connects well with the Cornish energies and has an enquiring mind with welcome experience in the performing arts. I look forward to her progression.
This year I sang the Cornish Pwmco alone while Susan Exton sang the Welsh version. I had no time to drink water after the energetic Teazing and hoped it would not affect my singing.  Susan and I thought the performance was better than expected, especially as she had little notice due to Vivien’s sudden illness.

Image – Susan Exton

The Mari’s stayed within the entrance hall of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic when blessing the property, as the corridors and stairs are difficult for the taller ‘Osses to negotiate. After the refreshments of beer and cake, I guided Penkevyll outside to watch the fabulous performance of Mr Fox. There is a primitive energy about their performance which complimented the event.

Image – John Isaac

After Sarah Emery’s beautiful song, it was time for Cassandra, Michelle and I to invoke the spirits of place with our bullroarers. Will Fox from Beltane Morris delivered a wonderful speech about the meaning of Samhain followed by a blessing.

 

All participants worked hard, the cooperation and friendship of all concerned imbued positive energies into the All Hallows event of 2017. A fabulous start to the new Celtic year.

 

Boekka’s 7th Year

Boekka our Guise team has been through many changes since it first began in 2010. There was a change in appearance with Teazers wearing masks and then we discovered that face blacking for disguise is easier to wear and also traditional for Guise performers.  Penkevyll has had two changes of tatters and ribbon colours and now has the traditional Cornish colours of black, white and gold.

We attempted to combine a Morris side with Boekka’s ‘Oss and Teazers as my son (our first rider) wished to teach a Morris team. We heard from an experienced Morris dancer that when a group has more than 7 members, the group dynamics change and problems occur. We found this to be the case and also discovered it was not easy to recruit Morris dancers in West Cornwall as most local musicians and dancers prefer to participate in Cornish traditional performance.  Boekka then reverted to ‘Oss and Teazers only and this works well.

We have three riders for Penkevyll the ‘Oss, two are local and the other lives further away. The rider who lives the farthest attended Sidmouth festival with his partner and Morris team and then continued their journey to Cornwall to visit us. We thought it an ideal opportunity to get two of our riders together to practice with Penkevyll and the rider with more experience gave the newer one tips on moving the ‘Oss to give her personality and character.

We also took the opportunity to photograph Penkevyll (Cassandra’s ‘Oss) and Morvargh (my ‘Oss) so they could interact.

 

I also had Teazing practice with Penkevyll. The energy of the ‘Oss is fast and wild and the Teazer needs to blend with this energy incorporating fast, wild and ‘earthed’ movements.  Slow movement with the ‘Oss can still have an edge but needs to be done in a certain way and Cassandra is the only Teazer who has accomplished this judging by the performances I have seen.

 

 

This practice coincided with Boekka’s 7th Birthday, so we had a celebration together with Prosecco and cake.

 

After practice we spent the evening in our local pub the St Buryan Inn for music, singing and dancing which the locals and tourists enjoyed. Some of them moved from the lounge bar to the public one to listen and join in with dancing and singing.

 

 

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening. It is good to now have three riders (as well as my son who rode in the past) who not only respect but understand the spirit of Penkevyll. Boekka is now a small but happy group with good energies. Long may it last.