We have played here before, for a party of Microsoft PhD students, in a marquee in the garden. This time we were inside the very lovely house itself, for a wedding ceilidh for an equally lovely bride and groom. The house was extraordinary – a working sedan chair, longcase clocks, marble and marquetry all over the place. 

After a very noisy start, the guests settled into some fabulously energetic dancing. Greg got the first Trump joke of the night in, much to Andrew’s annoyance. There were a few kilts in evidence so we did the Dashing White Sergeant, which went down a great. And of course the Cumberland Square Eight. Here’s the basket – always a good photo!

Sausage rolls in the Library, then back to work! Finished with Drops of Brandy, to ridiculously fast slipjigs. Even Greg claimed to be slurring (nine of us believed him …).

And we forgot to sell any CDs …. must try harder ….

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Ok, it’s not called New Hall now, but we can’t remember the name of the benefactor it’s been renamed after …

Anyway, interesting modern art and architecture. Greg and Andrew spent some time while the speeches finished looking at ceramics in the main corridor, failing to find the name of the artist on the touchscreen guide, and failing equally to remember the name of Grayson Perry, who may or may not have been the artist in question ….

Greg kicked off as usual with the Virginia Reel. Here’s the good looking married couple taking hands in the walk through.

The acoustic was better than we expected from the domed ceiling, and the dancing was never less than enthusiastic. The buffet boasted mini-beefburgers. We ended with the Drops of Brandy, Greg calling again.

In fact it was something of a triumph for Greg, who was very chuffed at having repaired the catches on the microphone box. Here it is, as good as new after 40 years’ service, with the ghost of the Cobbler’s Last sticker just visible …

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A nice local gig for us. The happy couple did their fair share of dances, including the first (The Virginia Reel) and last (Drops of Brandy), which was so fast it made Greg feel young again. Cambridge colleges are funny places for ceilidhs – historic hall, all oak panelling and giant paintings of past Masters and illuminati – but terrible  acoustic! Still, it sounded good out in the hall and everyone had a good time. It was the first outing for Andrew’s  Castsgnari  Mory – a rich sound! 

More pictures on the way courtesy of the groom’s brother … 

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We had a great time at the wedding of Greg and Hazel’s daughter. Very romantic setting – a tree-house in the New Forest, with fairy-lights and take-away party mugs! The best man gets our nomination for the best speech, though Greg’s was enjoyably tipsy. 

Here’s the happy couple, Ellie and Dave, signing the register.

We enjoyed hearing Ellie’s band, the wonderful Kiss the Mistress, who kicked off with a spirited rendition of the Game of Thones theme. We followed on with the ceilidh, and managed a fair number of dances before everyone slid off for a session. Here we are with Greg calling in his father-of-the-bride outfit.

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We wondered what kind of therapists, but never really found out … A very international bunch anyway, on a conference at Robinson College. Greg tried a bit of French in the calling, though it turned out none of them were French, sadly. Still, they were hugely energetic, and the dancing was intense and vigorous, even if bits were lost in translation. As we only had ninety minutes it was intense, and a hot July evening. We got through some challenging dances, including Margaret’s Waltz and the Drops of Brandy. They drank lots of iced water and were very appreciative (of the band). 

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We enjoyed playing for the big birthday of one of our local councillors. Greg and Andrew both had dodgy throats but battled on valiantly with the calling. Greg’s new joke had another airing – “swing your partner vigorously (if that’s their name)”. Maybe the old one was better – “swing your partners round (or any other part of their anatomy you fancy)!”

The dancing was vigorous and often unusually accurate! Here’s a nice twirl in the promenade at the end of the Cumberland Square Eight.

Meanwhile, the hog roast was awesome – thanks for that! David and Mike got into a highly technical conversation about David’s semi-constructed 7-key pipe chanter, all brass-lined key slots and how to stop your keys going brittle ….

The foldback speaker’s still on the blink, so more chat about the merits and technical challenges of in-ear systems. Let’s see what happens …

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No rain, miraculously! Greg kicked off the evening with his ever-mutating space hopper dance, with another generation of kids, all very enthusiastic except one tiny boy who kept wailing “I’m bored!” despite his energetic participation!

As usual, we played the Hogmanay and Woodcutters jigs, learned many years ago from our old friend Chris McLeod.

As always, the good folk of Victoria Park danced with inter generational verve. Here’s a Cumberland Square Eight set giving some wellie to the basket!

We thought we played ok, though a bit disconcerted by one of the foldback speakers which mysteriously blew up mid-dance. Greg’s muttering darkly about toroidal transformers and feedback destroyers …

Pictures of the bass player are rare in our archive, so here’s David on his Fender Precision!


Thanks to the Nobletts for the tasty barbecue and intriguing Wainwrights beer! All in all as spirited a ceilidh as ever, topped off by a madly fast Drops of Brandy. See you next year!

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This ceilidh was a blast! We were a bit anxious that the bride, Jelena, had requested a Serbian dance, but luckily her relatives and friends took care of it while we played something as close to the Balkans as we could manage.

It was a tight fit in the hotel ballroom, but brilliant acoustic, and we all agreed that we played pretty well (though we say it ourselves). The guests danced furiously but elegantly, and we were up for some dances we hadn’t done for a while: The Captain’s Favourite hornpipe, called by Greg, and the Morpeth Rant, called by Andrew, who managed to demo the rant step up and down the set without getting too breathless to explain the rest of the dance.

As well as the Serbian guests, there were a few kilts in evidence, so we did The Dashing White Sergeant too, for which we play The Dashing White Sergeant, of course, followed by The Kitchen Girl, a great Irish reel.

Even the food was good – Thai green curry or beef stroganoff. It was one of those ceilidhs where we remembered why we’d enjoyed it for so long …

Here’s Greg calling and Andrew playing.

Photographs by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Ed Thompson


And here are the dancers in full flight. We’re very grateful to Ed Thompson, the wedding photographer, for taking these and more. Check out his website at

And we wish Geraint and Jelena a long and happy married life!


Photographs by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Ed Thompson

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Michael House wedding 

We’d never played in this venue before – a deconsecrated church in the centre of Cambridge. It was a short but intense ceilidh, and we managed to pack a lot of dances into the two hours. The wedding guests were seriously energetic, and a few kilts were in evidence so we did the Dashing White Sergeant. Here’s one group lifting off in the infamous basket in the Cumberland Square Eight.

Greg created a cunning variation on the Circassian Circle at the end, producing a ring of arches for the bride and groom to dance through before their departure. 

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A most enjoyable evening for a teacher retiring after 38 years’ service at the same school. Very moving tributes to her work with over a thousand children over this time.

The dancing was terrific – often managed to get to the end of a move just before the music, and a little pause before the next. Here they are doing the Cumberland Square Eight.


We did a couple of mixers –  Lucky 7s and the Blaydon Races – and they mixed with gusto. Andrew managed to get through all the verses of the Blaydon Races, with Greg’s lovely harmony! And most of the verses of Paddy McGinty’s Goat in the Belfast Duck!

The band sounded very punchy, and we finished with the Drops of Brandy, which seems to get more impossibly fast every time we play it …

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