May is that time of year in the UK when villages start to become alive. Hipsters gather their trailers and converted caravans to vend organic vegan fat-hen flavour ice cream shampoo and barbecue slow cooked artisian oven baked allergen free squid rings to shuffling Guardian reading zombies. While village community association members bicker about who is in charge of procuring the orange squash and tombola this year.
May is also the time of year when bearded Arran sweater wearing ukelele and folk instrument players gather to play arcane tunes and songs devoted to John Barleycorn, the Green Man and other ancient deities of agriculture and fertility. They then sometimes dance around a pole waving their hankies or bopping sticks together or maybe they will cart a village teenager around in a wagon before sticking her on a pile of faggots and setting her alight.
Ah traditions. Long may they continue.
Sadly this year and last year most of these celebrations have failed to be performed causing the ancient gods of fertility and abundance to rouse and show their displeasance by causing Brexit, disease and embarrasment to the Prime Minister.
Although, as the plague is now on the wain, it is possible that such village celebrations will reemerge in 2022 and once again, people can wave hankies at each other while dancing around a pole. Lech Wałęsa need not apply.
I can’t remember why we went. It was possibly to see the Bell inn, a haunted inn mentioned in Marc Alexander’s Haunted Inns but it turned out that it was the annual Cheese Rolling day in Stilton. Cheese rolling is where, for some forgotten tradition, people gather to chase a “cheese” down Stilton high street.
So we got to Wakefield on Friday, stayed the night and played with little Merrie May (or Bonnie as she is known o_0 dont ask) Then Saturday morning we set off up the A1 to the lovely village (or really tiny town) of Masham.
Masham has not one, but two brewerys (Blacksheep & Theakstons) , a lovely river running through it (the River Ure), a church, a cricket pitch and several music festivals a year. This weekend was billed as the Blacksheep Music Festival which was mainly folk based but also had Morris men and rappers (didnt see any sword dancers).
Once we had arrived, greeted Becky, Jim, Becky’s dad, Rachael, Beckys sister and brother Sarah and Ricky and a few new faces, navigated the minefield of cow pats and erected our “stand up inside” tent, we sat down for a brief lunch and beer before setting off to the Bruce Arms to watch a troupe of rappers with their sticks dance merrily to contemporary music while supping fine ale. We then made our way to the town/village hall where the band Waking the Witch did their bit then on to the White Bear where the heat forced us to sit in the cool interior and listen to the Hall Brothers through the window.
We then tootled back to camp in the searing heat, had a crazy barbeque and a few tinnies then set back into town for an evening in the Blacksheep Brewery and the god awful racket that was Stanley Accrington (if anyone says hes good, theyre telling big huge Everest size porkies) and the lovely Flossie Malavialle. More beer was imbibed then we undertook a futile quest for chips resulting in us returning to the camp for bacon sandwiches.
Then the real fun began. Jim and Beckys dad got out their guitar and we started a good old sing along to be joined by a fair few other campers with their instruments. angelhands and I snook off to bed at about 1am but the campside fun went on until the early hours of the morning. As we said often, “In preparation for the annual Anglesey sojourn in 5 weeks time”
Sunday was just too hot. We broke camp and returned to Wakefield for lunch but the heat and lack of sleep got the better of me so I ended up having a “siesta”. Back on the road at 3pm and just as we got to the highest point on the M62, the heavens decided to open and we ended up floating down the other side of the Pennines. At home I tucked into a good old chippy dinner in front of the last episode of Dr Who, a well deserved shower followed. Then a bowl of popcorn and Sarah Michelle Gellar inThe Grudge which was an interesting slant on the original Japanese version Ju-On. Good none the less.