Saturday 1 February 2020


Hello!  Well, I've made it through January and if you are reading this, I think you must have done so too.  January can be hard, can't it?  The Yuletide jollities are over, the house looks bleak without its decorations and sparkle, the family and friends have dispersed and we're feeling the financial pinch after splashing out in December.  On top of all that, there's the weather - we've had a scant handful of clear skies but mostly it's been grey, dank and miserable and last Sunday I heard Andrew Marr say on the television, "There hasn't really been any weather this week, just an oppressive, colourless tarpaulin."  I think he nailed it.  We haven't had any snow here this winter and the prospects of it are minimal.  In fact, it's been so mild that we've only had three or four frosts.  It feels as if we are bypassing winter and travelling from autumn straight into spring.

Ah yes, Spring.  A couple of years ago I decided that one reason that people find January difficult is that they are longing for spring to arrive so its absence is a disappointment.  I realised that the way for me to cope with January was to embrace the fact that it is actually winter (although it didn't feel like it this year) and hunker down.  I filled my mantelpiece with tealights and candles, including a scented one, and enjoyed their hopeful light and delicious scent every evening.  I stayed indoors whenever I could to read, crochet and knit, soothing pastimes, and wrote lists of the books and craft projects I hope to complete over the next eleven months.  I think that January is a good month for lists and planning.  The Teacher bought me a cheery little bunch of daffodils, a taster of what's soon to come.  The dismal weather and football fixtures have almost completely prevented any real outings, but not completely: on 18th January the Best Beloved and I did something we have never done before...we went wassailing!

My cousin and her husband live in a village in Warwickshire where every year, during the weekend closest to Old Twelfth Night, people gather in the community orchard to wake up the apple trees, thank them for the fruit they have given and ask for a bountiful harvest.  I was quite excited when my cousin asked us to bring "coats and hats (robust; for decorating)" as I am partial to a nice hat.  During the afternoon she gathered some greenery from her garden and four of us sat around her dining table and decorated our hats.  Here's mine - 

This is not something the Best Beloved ever thought he would be doing!  At about 6.30pm we went to the pub in the village where we were easily able to spot the other wassailers as they were the people wearing hats adorned with greenery!  As we sat drinking, in came...the mummers!  This group of (middle-aged, male) actors performed the traditional play with much merriment, led by Father Christmas.  Here he is - 

Afterwards, the wassailers gathered outside and processed to the orchard, led by the vicar, who was wearing his black cassock and cloak and playing a tin whistle and a drum.  We gathered in a circle around the largest apple tree and the vicar asked God to bless the tree and the community.  Then the Wassail King and Queen, a baby boy and a teenage girl, placed pieces of toast on the branches of the tree, to feed it for the coming year.  Sheet music and words were handed out and we sang some wassailing songs, accompanied by a young flautist, and chanted a poem before banging wooden spoons on saucepan lids and making a lot of noise to chase away the bad spirits of the old year and wake up the tree.  Then we drank mulled cider or apple juice and ate apple cake while the bonfire crackled.  I do love a bonfire.  In fact, I loved the whole event.  I know it's all a bit daft but it was such good fun and really, it was all about community.  It made me want to plant an apple tree in my garden so that I can do it at home every year!  


See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x