Location: Willingham Community Orchard, Earith Road (just past the 30 mph sign on the right heading north, for those who still have not been there)
Organised by Graham Mumby, Manager of the WAG Enviro Group and a driving force behind the orchard’s existence, some 20 hardy souls and committed orchardeers celebrated – for the second year running – the pagan festival of Wassail on Sunday 21 January, the closest Sunday to the traditional day of 17 January. The weather was awful with sleet, wind, rain and freezing temperatures. Much traditional mulled cider was consumed to keep the cold out, with sausages and various tasty items available under umbrellas. Renate once again took the role of Chief Druid, reciting a traditional verse extolling the trees to get their sap rising, bear fruit and be plentiful as they begin their new life cycle.
Graham and Liz were rightly elected King and Queen of the Wassail, with the honour of placing cider-soaked toast and bread on the branches of a chosen representative of all the orchard trees. The gathered pagans then shouted ‘Hurrah Hurrah’, ‘Wassail Wassail’ and similar while banging spoons on pots and pans to awaken the trees. More cider-soaked toast was distributed among further trees, especially those donated by the stakeholders present.
Then all went back to Carolyn and Paul’s greenhouse for hot soup, baked potatoes with sundry guest contributions and more mulled cider, making for a very unproductive (restful) rest-of-Sunday.
Let’s hope the trees appreciated it!