Tuesday, May 04, 2010

May Day in Millbrook with The Black Prince

There are, of course, May Day festivals all over the county; indeed all over the country. Famous ones include The Helston Furry Dance (which traditionally takes place on the 8th of May) and Padstow's 'Obby 'Osses.

In my 'umble and-in-no-way-biased opinion, and everyone is entitled to my opinion, nothing can match the Rame Peninsula's Black Prince processions.

Mrs The Millbrooker had to give the celebrations a miss this year; still slaving over a hot word processing program, but Dozybean did the course with me.
I was monstrously hung-over from a marathon film club session on the previous evening, so the traditional ale in every pub wasn't going to be happening. However, let's begin at the beginning.
Now, if you're one of those readers who doesn't actually read my endless drivel but prefers to look at pictures, all of the photos what I took yesterday are in the "complete photosets" link on the right (just below Peter Knight and just above Bernard Mills). Or just click here to go straight to the actual album.

I skipped the dancing at the 'Ark on the grounds that by the time I got there it was in full swing and I couldn't get anywhere near the action, so a quick nip around the back to the D&C and The Plymouth Maids (yes perhaps that is an oxymoron along the lines of "police intelligence") gave of their best.

After appearances from The Wreckers and another troupe, the name of which escapes me, Dozybean and I headed into the Co-op for breakfast type supplies and retired to build up strength for the fray by eating greasy eggs and/or bacon baguettes back at Millbrooker Towers.

From thence, on to the fete at Venton House where Liability (centre, sitting)and Comb-Over (left, standing)were doing their charitable bit, staffing the raffle stall and cruelly failing to sell me a winning ticket. They sold me a ticket alright, just not a winning one.There was a traditional maypole and, the thing I really really liked, a human fruit machine. The three ladies charged 50p a go; the punter rings a bell and they go into an arm rolling routine whilst chanting "One-Two-Three-Four. When you gonna ring the bell?" When said punter rings the bell again, they stop rolling their arms and dip into the small fruit bowl in front of them. If they all get the same fruit, punter wins! Brilliant.Afore long, Dozybean and I took the path over the hill to Kingsand and Cawsand for the afternoon's festivities. And for the first of several pints (hangover now sufficiently receded).

The Rising Sun is the Black Prince's traditional first port of call on May Day. Dozy and I watched from atop the low wall in front of the pub.We particularly liked the tea chest bass played by one of Cat's Eye Morris.

Soon enough, it was best foot forward to The Devonport (currently closed for re-furb, so no pint at this stop).But we did get a grand display from the famed Cornish Wreckers Morris; Morris dancing with attitude. I love these guys.We skipped the dances outside the Halfway Inn because there's so little room, it's almost always impossible to see what's going on and instead headed straight over to The Cross Keys, stopping briefly in Moran's deli and cafe/restaurant on Garrett Street to partake of a bag of take away chips each. Naughty and very nice.

In Cawsand's Square there was, of course, more dancing and more drinking.Not entirely unexpectedly, the dancing included an impromptu audience participation dance; our neighbour Gay was an early volunteer.And, finally, the culmination of the day's dancing, drinking and singing. The launch of the Black Prince into Cawsand Bay; the flower boat takes winter out with it and so summer can come to the land. Here's the official Millbrooker video of the event.

The musicians kept playing as another ale was demolished.

We met up with Dong and Shazzerooneypoos for a last beer (or two), and a finale in The Riser before clambering up and over the hill back to Millbrook.

I say it every year, I just love Black Prince Day.


Anonymous said...

In 1985 I spent hours and hours researching the Black Prince Flower Boat aftwer finding a mention of it in Notes and Queries. Originally the Apprentice Boys Procession, the honour guard of the boat would carry replica boat building tools and would takwe thwe boat around the Rame Peninsula on the first day and over to Devonport on the second. The boats would be floated at the end of the days and if they floated the boys passed their apprenticeship. As I could find ni more I decided to revive the tradition, formed the Morris dancs ers and taught them their dances, got David Mashford to build the boat frame and I decorated the boat in my lounge and built the garland. It was carried by young lads from the villages. Now the origin of the revival seems to have been lost but I am very proud that I started the revival, and 25 years later it is still going strong. Kathy Wallis

The Millbrooker said...

And I'm extraordinarily glad you worked so hard to make it happen. Thank you.