Ask a selection of dancers of the Morris to say what enjoyment they get from being part of a team or club and you're very likely to get a surprisingly consistent and, arguably, agreeable set of answers.
Among the 'enjoyments' you'll find camaraderie, long friendships, good times, performing, exercise, good beer (of course!) and shared musicianship and an enjoyment of singing and entertaining. Certainly, these are the responses you'll get if you ask of Manchester Morris Men (MMM). Often heard is something along the lines of "It's just like any being a member of any football or netball team - except we dance!"
It was, therefore, a wonderful week at the end of summer 2015 - with all of the above pleasures eagerly anticipated - that Manchester Morris Men spent time on the beautiful island of Cyprus with our friends, The Cyprus Morris.
It was a long established friendship between a member of each team that led to The Cyprus Morris inviting MMM to join them on Cyprus - and when the invitation was received it met with great support. MMM had not previously danced on Cyprus and so it would be another overseas adventure to add to the club's list of accomplishments. It would also provide an opportunity for some late summer sun to prepare for the onslaught of the UK winter and with that in mind we were also delighted that our Ladies would have the opportunity to make the trip with us.
At the final count there were a total of 20 from Manchester making the trip to Cyprus, so investigations were started to see what suitable accommodation could be found - Villa, Apartments and Hotels etc? What a wonderful surprise then to hear that the members of The Cyprus Morris had offered to open up their homes to MMM and accommodate us for the duration of the week. As their members live in various towns and villages across The Republic of Cyprus (southern Cyprus) they also asked what our interests were for the non-dancing days of the trip e.g. sun and beaches, walking, visiting antiquities etc. They then managed to accommodate MMM with Cyprus members sharing the same passions. What an amazingly kind thought.
In the main MMM travelled to Cyprus as a group on a Tuesday flight from Manchester to Paphos but, because of work and other reasons, one or two travelled on a Wednesday flight arriving late in the evening. Also two 'country members' travelled direct from the East Midlands to separate accommodation that they had arranged with their travel company - that 'owed them one' from a previous holiday mess-up. However, everyone was still in good time to be ready for the first day's dancing on Thursday.
The first dancing day was to be at various locations in and around Paphos: at the Agios Neophytos Monastery (where the Abbot had given us his blessing!), at the Hamam, at The Tomb of the Kings and finishing at the entrance to the Paphos Archaeological Park, on the harbour front at Paphos. Again Cyprus Morris members were magnificent and each host arranged the transport to get everyone to the dance spots. It was a brilliant, hot day's dancing during which MMM performed Cotswold, Longsword and North West Processional styles. The day was followed by an evening dinner at Periklis Tavern, Nata.
Friday was a non dancing day when MMM and partners enjoyed the hot sunshine and a leisure day.
Saturday was Limassol Day - where we were all welcomed and accompanied to our dancing venues by the Mayor of Limassol. Dancing started in the main tourist shopping area of Saint Andrew's Street before moving on to the Municipal Market and then on to the courtyard of Limassol Castle.
After lunch the tour moved on for an afternoon session at Kolossi Castle, before ending the day with a last dance spot, followed by dinner, at Agios Ermogenis.
No rest for the wicked! Sunday was another full day of dancing but this time up in the hills behind Limassol at two rural, village festivals.
The first was at The Oleastro Olive Park in Anogyra, for the Olive Tree Festival Day, followed by a journey to Koilani to dance at The Afamia Grape Festival. Both were fantastic. There were very big crowds and the dancing from each team was really appreciated. It was a chance for us visitors to enjoy a taste of the 'real' Cyprus. After a tiring day everyone was ready for a good dinner at the Sykaminia Underground, Agios Amvrosios - and it certainly didn't disappoint.
Monday was a non-dancing day, helping recovery from the weekend's exertions, before everyone came together in the evening for a farewell feast and celebration at The Village Inn, Episkopi. This was a great evening of revels, with eating, dancing, singing and talking over good times with friends old and new. There's no question in Manchester minds that the enjoyments of the Morris: camaraderie, friendship, good times, music, song and dance are all shared in plentiful measure with The Cyprus Morris.
Sadly the evening passed all too quickly before it was time for the fun to end and for everyone to say their goodnights.
Most of the MMM group were booked on the Tuesday late evening flight back to Manchester and so this afforded the chance to 'top up' on the sun and to do any last minute sight seeing. On Tuesday night those leaving were brought to the airport by their Cyprus Morris hosts and final farewells were said in the departure hall.
Plans are now in hand for a return Cyprus Morris visit to Manchester in the summer of 2017.
(photo credits : Cyprus Morris & Manchester MM)
Manchester Morris Men