Us Brits are the masters of weird and wacky; our eccentric ways, quirky pastimes and frankly bizarre traditions may baffle some, but long may they live on!
This week, we sent you, our local agents, out on a mission to unearth the local events, traditions and fabulous food finds that make your home the place it is. Here are our top picks for your Entertaining Events, Eats and Traditions across the UK!
Our No. 1 Event
Location: St Agnes/Chapel Porth
Submitted by: Alison Vine
Notes: Bolster Festival – an annual two-day event. It celebrates the local legend of the slaying of the Bolster Giant who tries to steal children from the village of St Agnes. It is set on the stunning cliffs and grassy banks of Chapel Porth.
Our No. 1 Eat
Location: Fleetwood, Lancs
Submitted by: Carole Clarkson
Eat Notes: Here’s me and my dog Marley enjoying traditional Lancashire ‘Parched Peas’ at the beach in Fleetwood. Parched Peas are black-eyed peas cooked and served with vinegar. They are a traditional treat in the North of England, especially when served on Bonfire Night to warm everyone up. The thickened and mushy peas once cooked are sprinkled with malt vinegar.
Our No.1 Tradition
Submitted by: Nicholas and Sonia Field
Tradition Notes: Bath Abbey has a ring of 10 bells. The treble (lightest) weighs a little over 5 cwt while the tenor (heaviest) weighs over 33 cwt. Covid-19 apart, the bells ring regularly throughout the year with a far greater demand on ringers during the run-up to Christmas. So, to prepare themselves for the forthcoming extra expenditure of energy, Bath Abbey ringers enjoy a pre-advent ‘Suet fest’. Each provides a homemade suet dish to share: savoury or sweet…or in the case of Nicholas’ strawberry and onion tarts, a bit of each! Party hats are obligatory, and an opening greeting is given by the oldest member present before the ringers eat their way through vast quantities of delicious suet dishes. The Abbey ringers’ very own traditional eating event!
Congratulations to Alison, Carole and Nicholas & Sonia – you’ve each won a Cream Tea Hamper in the post from our friends at The Cornish Hamper Store!
The Best of the Rest
Location: Eynsham, Oxfordshire
Submitted by: Lucy Dickinson
Notes: Introducing the nutty Eynsham Shirt Race, which has taken place in our village annually since 1958 (except this year – pesky Covid!) Participants enter in pairs, in fancy dress, with a non-motorised vehicle (the more elaborate, the better). The route is seven furlongs through the village, stopping for liquid courage at seven pubs, and switching ‘pusher’ at each stop. Some participants even make it to the end with their vehicle intact…
Location: Salcombe, Devon
Submitted by: Fiona Haward
Notes: First week of August each year Salcombe have town regatta with lots of fun traditions, including one of my favourites, the Low Tide Mudbanks race! At low tide, the estuary exposes black, oozy, smelly mudbanks. The mud race contestants are ferried out by little boats and all stand in a line. They then have to ‘run/slide/slither/dive’ their way to the far side and back… Only about 50m in total but it is utter chaos/carnage and fun!! Old clothes are obligatory!!
Location: Bridport, Dorset
Submitted by: Barry
Notes: There is a great tradition of Nettle Eating in the Dorset area. To find out who can eat the most, there is a competition! Competitors have an hour to eat as many feet of stinging nettle stalks as possible – the winner is the person who has eaten the most!! This takes place yearly at The Bottle Inn, Marshwood, Chideock, Bridport, Dorset.
Location: Rothwell, Northamptonshire
Submitted by: James Dainty
Notes: Rothwell is normally a quiet market town – except for Proclamation Day which marks the start of the Rowell Trinity Fair at Rothwell in Northamptonshire and begins with a pub-crawl with a difference. It’s held on the first Monday following Trinity Sunday each year, so it moves date around the end of May to the end of June depending on when Easter fell that year. The fair is held to celebrate the granting of a charter to Rothwell by King John, allowing the residents to hold a weekly market – so it’s been going for 800 years or so, though the charter read during the Proclamation dates from the time of King James I. It starts early – when the clock strikes 6 am at the west porch of Holy Trinity Church. Accompanied by a band, the bailiff on horseback (or sometimes in a horse-drawn cart) and his halberdiers and officials make their way to the church, whereupon the bailiff reads the charter to the assembled crowd. The National Anthem is played, and the party are served the traditional Rowell Fair Rum and Milk to warm them up for their journey around the town and its pubs. After the first couple of stops (for refreshment!) mayhem breaks out – the crowd attempt to wrest control of the halberds from the halberdiers. Once the whistle is blown, order is restored, and the group move on to the next stop. The last stopping place is the Rowell Charter Inn and the whole thing ends after an hour or so (in plenty of time for breakfast!).
Location: Nottingham (Sherwood Forest to be precise)
Submitted by: Sarah Cannon
Notes: Where else in the world/UK can you attend the Robin Hood festival surrounded by the trees in which he lived and helped the poor?!
The Robin Hood festival occurs every year in Sherwood Forest, and you can try your hand at archery, falconry and traditional crafts. You can also dress up and have your face painted whilst enjoying the forest and have your photo taken with The Major Oak (the biggest oak tree in Britain!).
If you’re lucky, you may even get to meet our very own Robin Hood walking around the festival.
Location: West Country
Submitted by: Gail Jones
Notes: Wassailing is an ancient tradition dating back to Anglo Saxon times. Where groups would go into the fruit orchards and drink to the fruit trees typically apples to ensures fruitful crop. This tradition still happens in the West Country I some cider orchards. It was also a Christmas tradition going door to door singing and offering drink from a wassail bowl. Now more commonly known as carol singing without the booze.
Location: Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Submitted by: Val Platt
Notes: Garlic festival….garlic ice cream, garlic fudge, roasted garlic..garlic pickles, every summer at Arreton on the island. A whole weekend to celebrate our island garlic farm and its produce.
Location: Ottery, St Mary
Submitted by: Vicky Morris
Notes: 5th November sees Ottery St Mary come alight with flaming tar barrels which are run through the streets and crowds by the local townsfolk.
Location: Dymchurch, Kent
Submitted by: Christopher Sherlock-Scougall
Notes: Day of Syn – The whole village celebrates every second year on the last weekend of August by dressing up as either pirates or red coats and parading through the town to celebrate the villages past as a smugglers haven. There is a battle reenactment where the red coats face off against ‘The Scarecrow’, the leader of a ragtag band of smugglers with real gun powder and explosions! Sometimes the battle occurs on the sandy beach with the red coats manning the cannon on top of the Neopolanic Martello Tower which stands in the middle of the village. There is a fair on the village recreation ground, and the windows on the High Street are dressed to celebrate the occasion and the population of the village. Morris dancing troupes and local samba groups provide the musical accompaniment whilst people enjoy ale and gypsy tarts.
Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Submitted by: Sonia Conway
Notes: Bun Throwing. To mark royal events, jubilees, risk weddings etc. the town council head up to the roof of the old town hall, dressed in their finery. The people gather below in the market Square shouting ‘We want buns, we want buns…’ until the council members start launching thousands of currant buns from the roof out to the crowds below. If you’re lucky you’ll catch one with a themed decoration, ‘E II R’ etc. If you’re unlucky, it’ll be raining, and you’ll get a wet splodge on the arm or a trampled bun from the floor!
Our Trail Writers’ Top Picks
Location: St Columb, Cornwall
Notes: Every Shrove Tuesday and then the following Saturday, St Columb hosts a game of Hurling.
It’s Townsmen vs Countrymen, and they have goals at either end of the town, about two miles apart, and the aim is to get the ball into their goal by throwing it to each other up and down the town.
It’s a rough game, and if a car gets in the way, well, then it’s their fault! I’ve seen a ball go into a car window, and they just dive in to get it out again. They scrum and fight for the ball as well, there’s usually blood. There are no rules, but keep it in the town for an hour.
The same evening at 8pm, the ball is called up as either a Town Ball or Country ball, and they all go to the pub and drop it in a big tankard which everyone has a drink from ‘silver beer’, and cocoa for the kids.
It’s supposed to be good luck to hold the ball, and the event goes back for centuries.
Location: Forfar, Angus
Notes: A Forfar Bridie is a bit like a Cornish Pasty!
Location: Cooper Hill, Gloucestershire
Notes: Known as cheese rolling, this wacky event sees competitors launch themselves down the hill after a round of Double Gloucester cheese! The aim is to be the first person across the finish line at the bottom. The prize is the round of cheese!
Your Next Assignment
Your fifth MISSION is now live! You have until 11:59pm on Wednesday 2nd December to shout loud and proud about your local… strange signs!
Have you spotted any signs around your way that have made you go “ha!” or “huh?”? From road directions to pointless plaques, funny or punny shop names to the curious and confusing signs, we want to know all about them!
rachelfoxton 26th November 2020
Posted In: Challenges