Boekka’s 10th Birthday – Memories 2

2015

In 2015 Rhys moved away from the area to pursue his career. I took over the role as teacher for the Morris dances as well as Teazer dances, but was also needed as a dancer. I was unable to play music at this time, therefore most dances were done with percussion.

Chepstow Wassail 2015

Boekka acquired another ‘Oss rider who was the shortest we ever had, so Penkevyll did not tower above the other ‘Osses at this event. The rider was also a founder member of a local Morris team, so I danced with them on a few occasions.

St Pirans Day Redruth 2015

Trewellard Beer Festival

Wreckers Day of Dance

After Wreckers Day of Dance, I felt the Morris team was not progressing and decided to close it down. I had put in a huge amount of effort to keeping it going, however the difficulty of recruiting in Cornwall and maintaining a high standard of performance was not possible. We were then able to concentrate on Teazer and ‘Oss performances and become more involved with the local Morris team.

All Hallows Dark Gathering 2015

At this event I performed with the local Morris team while Cassandra was Teazer for Penkevyll.

2016

2016 was a busier year, as well as performing with Boekka we attended many events with the local Morris team. It seemed to work well together as our ‘Oss rider also performed in both.

Chepstow Wassail 2016

Fowey 2016

Handfasting Event

Boekka was asked to perform at a Handfasting in Lamorna. Our other ‘Oss rider who lives locally volunteered for this one. The torrential rain outside, meant Penkevyll was well and truly soaked when she arrived for her performance that evening!

St Pirans 2016

Lostfest 2016

All Hallows Dark Gathering 2016

It was a busy summer, Cassandra and I worked hard with the local Morris team, but as it was not the type of team that resonated with me. When we arrived on Friday evening at the Dark Gathering, certain incidents convinced me it was time to leave the team. In retaliation the founder member announced he would not ride Penkevyll at this event. Fortunately, another Morris dancer who attended but was not performing that weekend, kindly offered to stand in until we found another rider.

2017

In 2017 when Cassandra handed on the role of Head Teazer to me, I was then able to concentrate solely on this performance without dividing my energies. Life with Boekka settled into a positive routine and the energies improved immensely.

Chepstow Wassail 2017

With me as main Teazer, Cassandra focused on her drumming and met excellent percussionists who assisted in her development.

St Pirans Day Redruth 2017

While I teazed Penkevyll at this event, Cassandra played percussion with Whippletree band.

It was decided at Beltane 2017 to give Penkevyll a total change of image, discarding unwanted residue from the past for a fresh beginning. Penkevyll had a new mane, new dress and her tatters are now Cornish colours of black, white and gold.

Although Cassandra had handed over the Teazer role, she could not resist posing in our new image and her ‘trusty’ snapper!

After completing Penkevyll’s new image, my creative juices were flowing, so I purchased a small ‘Obby ‘Oss of my own now known as Morvargh the Dark Sea ‘Oss. It is a good idea to own a smaller ‘Oss so that I can ride her if Penkevyll is unable to appear at an event. The foal is a welcome addition to our team and popular with Boekka fans.

Tintagel Carnival 2017

Boscastle 2017

All Hallows Dark Gathering 2017

Morvargh made her debut at the Dark Gathering 2017 during the afternoon. I rode her with Wreckers Morris during their Song of the Sea dance.

2018

2018 brought a surprising change to Boekka. A younger man contacted us with a desire to join a ‘dark and edgy’ team. We tried him out as rider for Penkevyll and he had good potential. He connected with the spiritual side of ‘Oss riding and treats Penkevyll with utmost care and respect. These aspects are extremely important. ‘Osses should not be treated merely as puppets for one’s convenience and/or ego which sadly occurs more frequently now that owning an ‘Oss is a fashionable ‘trend’. I have also acquired two apprentice Teazers that connect with Penkevyll in their own way. One of them also rides Morvargh on occasions.

Chepstow Wassail 2018

Penkevyll’s riders were unavailable for Chepstow, however I managed to find a young, tall, muscular Welshman to ride Penkevyll during the afternoon. In the evening, we had the freedom to enjoy the ceremony on the bridge without an ‘Oss to distract us.

We spent the summertime training our new ‘Oss rider and Teazers who made their official debut at the next event.

All Hallows Dark Gathering 2018

Cassandra joined the drummers of wonderful Beltane as she enjoys their wild rhythms which are second to none!

It was wonderful for me to re-connect with my former Morris team from nearly 20 years ago. This gave me the opportunity to come ‘full circle’; by performing my final Morris dance with Vixen at the All Hallows Dark Gathering… a place ‘between the worlds’ where magical things occur!

2019

2019 had a wonderful start with the Chepstow Wassail as we invited Beorma Morris and they joined us at this event. It was fabulous to catch up with friends we had not seen in a while as we had missed them since they were no longer performing at the Dark Gathering with Wytchwood Morris.

This year the Maris had a Beauty Pageant where Boekka were interviewed. There were 33 Maris and ‘Osses so we were waiting behind the stage for quite a while!

My apprentice Teazer and I performed a choreographed dance on the bridge around Cassandra and Penkevyll.

St Pirans Day Redruth 2019

On St Pirans Day I had work commitments, so I left Penkevyll in the hands of my two Apprentice Teazers and they did a magnificent job!

Tintagel Carnival 2019

Boekka were joined by Mari Arianrhod visiting from Wales for the Carnival procession.

All Hallows Dark Gathering 2019

Morvargh took more of an active role this year, rode by one of our Teazers. I stepped in as co-organiser after the sudden departure of the managers from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

2020

The Chepstow Wassail was unfortunately cancelled this year, so we attended the Brecon Wassail. It is a smaller event; however we were keen to meet up with our Welsh friends who joined us with their Maris. Our Teazers also performed with the Welsh dancers, although the dancing in my opinion was better when we rehearsed the previous evening during our drinking session!

Cassandra’s wonderful 70th Birthday Party occurred in March 2020 with our special guests – the fabulous Beltane Border Morris. After that, it became one of the strangest years we have known where events were cancelled and the whole world changed beyond recognition! Let us hope that soon we can return to some sort of normality as there are many performers missing their music and dance which is an important part of our lives!

So there you have it….10 years of Boekka and what an incredible, eventful journey! I wonder what the next 10 years will bring…… we will see you soon!!

Boekka in St Buryan

Boekka had a wonderful Saturday afternoon welcoming Ashwood Forest Morris men to their home village of St Buryan. They previously contacted us to let us know they planned to visit our village, so we were delighted to support them.

Penkevyll also found time to bless a property opposite the Inn for new residents.

We introduced Penkevyll and Morvargh to Sarah our new pub landlady and we also met Ashwood Forest Morris’ naughty Badger who chased little Morvargh until Penkevyll arrived to sort him out!

It was also wonderful to see our ‘Osses getting on so well with the local residents in the village.

Feargal also arrived to see us all after he finished work.

We had a wonderful time at the St Buryan Inn with the guys and then we visited the Buryan Rally for more music and dance.  Penkevyll and Morvargh returned to their stable first, as the livestock there would have been a little disturbed by their presence!

Cassandra and I also joined Ashwood Forest Morris in St Just during the evening too. A busy but fabulous weekend to end the month of July.

Ten Years Performing as Teazer

It was on 26th June 2009, that I first ventured onto the streets of Penzance for my Teazer performance under the tuition of Cassandra Latham Jones. I had previous experience of Morris dancing and performed at various folk festivals, however I mistakenly assumed the role of Teazer could be something similar.

It all began with a telephone phone call during November 2008 from an acquaintance who asked if I would be interested in training for the role of a Teazer. They briefly explained what it would entail and I agreed to try, as it would also provide an opportunity to join a community event after recently moving to Cornwall. I had visited the home of this particular acquaintance and their partner on a few occasions while they were in the process of creating a new Penglaz ‘Oss after the original ‘Oss retired. They were extremely excited about this project and I witnessed the gradual development of the new Penglaz creation. It was the first time I had seen a horse’s skull and heard about the folk tradition in which these skulls were utilised. Cassandra contacted me soon after hearing of my interest and invited me to attend the 2008 Montol festival near the winter solstice, so that I could observe her first performance with the new Penglaz.

The acquaintance who introduced us was also a photographer at the event and suggested I wore a mask and dark clothing, as the majority of people wore ‘mock formal’ attire.

On our arrival at the event I joined the back of the procession at St Johns Hall with my former husband and son. I then made my way to the front to observe Cassandra’s performance. Penglaz the ‘Oss did not appear during the first procession so I concentrated on Cassandra’s movements as she marched at the front of the band in time to the music and waving to people who lined the streets. At the hill fort we stood around a large fire beacon to warm ourselves and visited a pub with the photographer, their partner and one of their friends.

The crowd seemed to increase in number for the second procession and once again I followed at the back with my husband and son, then gradually moved to the front.

Cassandra and Penglaz appeared out of an entrance adjacent to a restaurant in Chapel Street and were welcomed by enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The energy was wild and exciting.

When I had previously performed at festivals with my former Morris team, I was one of many performers, but on this occasion it was a little disconcerting to see that Penglaz and her Teazer were the main characters and focus of the event. This meant there would be greater pressure on the performance and I voiced my concerns to the photographer who assured me that it would all have a positive outcome.

During my interview with Cassandra on the 26th January 2009, I was informed of a second new Penglaz and an ongoing disagreement between the other ‘Oss rider and Cassandra, but she assured me I would not be involved in this matter. Cassandra and I met regularly for practices at a yard owned by an engineer known to the photographer. My son and husband both rode Penglaz and each of them had a unique interpretation which gave the ‘Oss varied personality traits within each performance.

My former husband gave Penglaz a cheeky character, while my son being only seventeen years of age, was unpredictable, mischievous and Cassandra says he was and still is, the fastest ‘Oss rider she ever had!

Although I was an experienced dancer, I needed to develop a connection with a completely different type of energy to perform this role. Cassandra sent me explanations and descriptions of the Bucca elemental (of sea and storms) spirit that works through the ‘Oss and Teazer.

I modelled my Teazer kit on the one Cassandra wore, as the Teazer ‘cross dresses’ to represent the ‘male and female’ aspect and ‘topsy turvy’ Cornish energy. Cassandra attended a ‘guild meeting’ and presented its members with video footage of our practices, announcing that I would be her apprentice Teazer and apparently it had the guild members’ approval.

My first appearance was on Friday 26th June 2009 on Mazey Eve. My former husband volunteered to ride Cassandra’s Penglaz (the one and only time) and we were understandably a little nervous on our first appearance particularly within a community we were unfamiliar with. On reflection I am sure many were wondering who we were and why we had been placed into a ‘lead role’ within their community festival! Just before the performance I was instructed by Cassandra to wait outside a local inn while she attempted to locate someone. A local man approached me asking why I was there and when I explained, he stated that I would never be as good as Cassandra and continued to tell me how long he had known her and revealed rather personal details about her life! What an encouraging start to the evening!

We prepared ourselves and Penglaz in a room at the Barbican and Cassandra stood at the open top window waving at the gathering crowd who were cheering and looking up at her. We made our entrance from the large black doors to lively music provided by the Golowan Band and cheers from the crowd. Mazey Eve is a wild celebration and extremely crowded, so keeping near Penglaz and making one’s way through the crowd is quite a task!  I watched Cassandra closely and on many occasions our movements were identical which boded well for future development.

Cassandra imbued a confidence and connection with the ‘Oss during her seventeen years of Teazing, something that would also develop within me after years of experience. One’s reflexes need to be quick due to the unpredictable behaviour of the ‘Oss and the crowd.

The Teazer’s role is to attempt to control the crowd as well as keep an eye on Penglaz, making space for her to move around and protecting her from over-enthusiastic intoxicated revellers who step into her path, or attempt to get too close, as this could result in injury. There were specific signals Cassandra used to direct Penglaz, to laugh, dance and also stand still if needed. The stomping and snapping move of the ‘Oss is one that takes practice as the timing of snapping the jaw and stepping need coordination. My son Rhys accomplished this move quickly and with a spectacular result.

After my first performance as Teazer, I received some positive feedback, plus a few criticisms from one, who thought I should teaze the ‘Oss in exactly the same way as Cassandra. At first I could not understand what he meant, however after years of experience I understood, as he advised me to watch her feet. Mine now move in the same way as the energy has ‘grounded’ within the performance.  Another person did not agree with two Teazers being on the street instead of one, but Cassandra explained it was the best method for training. Whatever their viewpoints, I knew that I had done a good first performance for someone with no previous knowledge or experience of ‘Oss Teazing.  My role with Cassandra and Penglaz in Penzance continued for two years and then Cassandra and I were dismissed from the festival over further political issues. (See Original Penglaz Reinstated). I was rather relieved to be out of this situation within the Golowan festival, as it allowed us freedom to perform in our own way.  After leaving we re-named our ‘Oss Penkevyll and our Guise team Boekka.

Boekka has had three changes of colours, image, performers and riders throughout the years, however what remained constant was that Cassandra and I were united as Teazers. I performed alongside her for eight years and then, after twenty five years of Teazing, Cassandra handed on the role of head Teazer to me.

My Teazer role has developed over the years and the strongest connection and change within it occurred at the All Hallows Gathering in 2016 after my release from a situation that was, on reflection, draining the energies. The Teazer role needs total focus and I discovered dividing my energy between Morris dancing and Teazing did not work well.

I now have two apprentice Teazers as well as new ‘Oss riders. All are doing extremely well and Boekka is going from strength to strength. This year is our 9th year of performance (as our team first formed while our ‘Oss was still Penglaz during 2010). I also own and ride an ‘Obby ‘Oss by the name of Morvargh (Cornish for Sea Horse).

I have learnt some valuable lessons in the last ten years and am not the same person who moved to Cornwall eleven years ago, however I have some fond memories of those early days.

Cassandra has asked me to mention that I am the ONLY Teazer she has taught and I am proud of this fact.

It has certainly been an eventful but rewarding journey!

Read more about Boekka

St Pirans Day 2019

It was a wild windy day when Boekka ventured out to celebrate St Pirans Day in Redruth as Boekka has attended this event for the past 7 years.  Due to work commitments I was unable to attend, which meant my two apprentice Teazers and a new rider had to perform alone. I work hard training them, just as Cassandra had with me. Any Teazer ‘worth their salt’ would not lightly hand the role over to just anyone. They need to have self discipline and respect for this role, which meant I had the utmost confidence in my trainee Teazer’s abilities.  I received excellent feedback on how well they performed and members of the public described Boekka combined with Whippletree as the happiest group at the event. I am so proud of them all!

There are some wonderful photographs below.

Read about the history of St Pirans Day

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 passed her ‘snapper’ to me along with the position of main Teazer.

At this event I guided Penkevyll and stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place.  The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic as Penkevyll accompanies the Maris to meet the approaching English from the opposite side at the centre of the bridge.

St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and: Boekka to take part in their procession at Redruth.  The procession is uphill and extra energy is required here while Teazing and interacting with the crowd along with 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 tribal music played for the Morris dancers (I find Beltane’s music extremely powerful) and connect with spirits of place on land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.

This year I also rode my Sea ‘Oss Morvargh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton with their new Mari Seren. Dancing with Morvargh is also an ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole, the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvargh to dance alongside his Morris band while they performed a dance about the sea. We worked well together and the audience enjoyed it immensely.

It was then time to return Morvargh to her stable 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 wonderful sound of throbbing drums signalled the appearance of Penkevyll.

Our space was rather restricted this year as Mr Fox had their fire display equipment in the space. Penkevyll danced and interacted with the crowd 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. Gem is in her 30s and has a good connection with Penkevyll. She also understands 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 this affected my singing as my throat was rather dry.  Susan and I thought the Pwmco went better than expected, particularly as she had little notice of this with Vivien’s sudden illness.

The Mari’s stayed within the entrance hall of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic while blessing the property, as the corridors and stairs are difficult for 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 deep primitive energy about them which suited our event.

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.

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