On Saturday 14th January I took the train to Kent and stayed with my good friends Gail and Mick. We began school together at the tender age of five! The Camp School was set in the middle of bluebell woods and was comprised of wooden army huts from the war….(this was post war Britain) All in all it was an idyllic setting and way to begin school life.
Mrs. Whitefield, one of our teachers, believed in keeping local ancient traditions alive, and thus influenced Gail and Mick to involve themselves in the traditional arts of South East England. Gail has written numerous books on the subject and written plays which are performed in schools….
quick watercolours of Gail and Mick painted a couple of years ago.
On Saturday evening 14th January, we drove out to The Gate pub- Marshside to celebrate the ancient custom of Wassailing. It was the perfect evening…cold, clear, with stars and moon shining brightly.
As we ate a delicious meal in the Pub in front of a roaring fire. It felt as if we had gone back in time. (please excuse my photographs – I didn’t want to use a flash, and so they are somewhat grainy, however, in a way they capture the atmosphere)
The Wassailing bowl awaits the celebrations……..
Then it was out to the ancient apple tree orchard which surrounds the pub where the reciting of incantations and singing to the trees hopefully will promote a good harvest for the coming year.
The word ‘Wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘Waes hael’ which means – Good health. After singing to the trees, the Wassail bowl was passed around the crowd. Originally the Wassail was a drink made from mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar……
Guns were fired and then the celebrations began…..
Back into the warmth of the Pub….for much merriment and wonderful music……
A picture of The Gate – Marsh Side during the day time.
I highly recommend for it’s lovely atmosphere and wonderful food…especially on a cold winter’s night. A Bientot