You're probably back at work this week, sat in front of your computer, crammed in some public transport looking for a little joy on your smartphone. After all the frivolity and joy of Christmas and New Year, this week sees an abrupt end to all that fun and it's easy to feel a little crestfallen. Hell, you're probably thinking there must be a better job out there that involves long lunch breaks, plenty of alcohol, good food and a boss you never see. Then you day dream of winning the lottery and by the end of this week you'll give anything to be back at that Christmas table arguing with extended family members that you haven't seen for a year, and had quite forgotten why you hadn't seen them for a year until they sat down at your table and opened their mouth. That's how depressing going back to work is for many. We often wonder why anyone would choose to work when we get so little back in terms of life/work balance. So, in the interim of all these thoughts, join us in our wassailing journey up a hillside, in the dark and cold to tell some trees to grow well, fruit better and give us joy. Wassailing for those of you wondering what the heck it is, is about telling your trees and each other to be in good health for the coming year. To make sure this happens it's best to be pissed, remember we are going up a hill in the dark, half-cooked and screaming at blackberries trying to grab us. For the record, Little D had a non-alcoholic version of the following recipe: 2 quarts apple cider or ale, 1-1/2 cups orange juice, 3/4 cup pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, 2 cinnamon sticks, a dash of ground cinnamon and a dash of ground cloves. Bring to the boil and then cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot and go out into the world steaming. Add fruit to the mix if you wish, think of it as merry punch for twelfth night (for the record, twelfth night is when the wise men showed up. They came far and still got in on time compared to most public transport).

Wassail, a British tradition coming back in 2018

The idea is to find a fruit tree and yell wassail at it and say the following, Here's to thee, old apple tree,/That blooms well, bears well./Hats full, caps full,/Three bushel bags full,/An' all under one tree./Hurrah! Hurrah! That sounds fine in principal, and there are variations across all the regions but this rhyme is found the most, but after a couple of mugs of the punch you're just shouting like an irate drunk. There are wassailers out there who visit several orchards in one night. Hats off to you, after all that singing, drumming and drinking you must have inner ear problems. If you're reading this in Kent, hell if you can still read in Kent, England's fruit basket, then you have been permanently pissed since twelfth night and probably can no longer hear. Except when we get to the orchard, after all that blackberry grabbing action, yells of watch out for the greenhouse it's moving, problems with the unfinished path that tries to kill us and the chickens who gave us filthy looks so we wassailed them too, we find we cannot remember the rhyme or get internet this far up the hill to search for the rhyme. The piece of paper we had it written down on may be in the house or in the chicken coop, if so it's Gene Simmons faults (for the record this is the name of our cockerel). In the end we just shout, wassail at every tree, fruit bush and large weed we come across because it is REALLY dark out there. You can see our clueless nature in the video at the end of this post. We are totally confused about what we are supposed to be saying and Little D complains about wasting any of his lovely punch. As grown ups we should take charge but it's too late by then and we are just sniggering and pointing out the mole hills that have appeared in the orchard. That's why we keep falling over. Honest.

Wassailing in Saddleworth

We even forgot to sing and bang drums as you are supposed to but our neighbours heard us out there in the dark and turned off their lights, locked their back doors and drew their curtains. This weird and wonderful tradition is still going on today and we have brought it to Pig Row because we went back to work on Thursday and needed a pick me up by the weekend. We know there is a large orchard down in the valley, sometime this week we will strike with fruit punch, drums and slurred poetry. We will be in and dragged out before we can find a mole hill to fall over. So, if you have an orchard or a fruit tree in a pot, even some strawberries in a bed or bucket, get out this week and wassail. Just remember to write down the rhyme, take your reading glasses and drum. Don't forget to sing, laugh and be merry. Don't be afraid to sound like fools in the night, it gets you ready for spring. Wassail!


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