Last evening we went to Thaxted to watch the annual Morris Dancing Festival. All day long the 13 groups of dancers from all over the country, and even a team from Utrecht in the Netherlands, toured villages in a 10 mile radius of Thaxted, dancing outside village pubs, before converging on Thaxted for the main event of the festival, an evening of dancing in the main street of the town, with the 600 year-old Guildhall serving as a backdrop to the festivities. Throughout the evening there were massed dances, where 7 or 8 groups all performed the same dance at the same time, individual teams took centre stage, and there was an impressive solo dance by a very athletic young man, which was almost balletic at times. The climax of the evening was the ‘Horn Dance’, which takes place after dark, and begins with a procession down the steep lane from the church. The audience lining the streets fell silent as the performers, led by a single fiddler playing a haunting melody, filed past the Guildhall into the main street. It was kind of weird, but strangely hypnotic, as a line of men with carved deer heads complete with antlers held in front of their faces led the procession, followed by a man dressed as an old woman carrying a parasol, another with a bow and arrow, one ‘riding’ a horse, and a young lad bringing up the rear playing a triangle, chiming it at key moments. The whole ensemble wore quite elaborate costumes, including impressive headgear. It was completely bonkers, but captivating and very moving….to me anyway. Meanwhile, away from the dancing the town was packed with revellers, intent on drinking every beer barrel in the place dry; there will have been some sore heads this morning!

I forgot to tell you last week that I had an accident at work; it was actually on Sunday, so I was probably concussed and forgot about it when I wrote the blog. In the potting shed I have a place where a lot of my tools are hung up. I was looking for a trowel down on the ground, when I nudged the handle of one of the hanging tools with my shoulder, dislodging it from its perch causing it to crash down on to my nut. Unfortunately for me it was a rake, and one of its tines took a chunk of flesh from my scalp, just off centre. I took a sharp intake of breath at the same time as a rush of adrenaline surged through me. I grabbed a wad of kitchen towel and washed the wound as best I could, replaced the flap of skin where I thought that it should be, and tried to stem the flow of blood, before applying a plaster. When I got home I showed Jennifer, who was surprised that the Elastoplast was only half covering the wound, and that I had applied the sticky bit to the skin flap! Anyway, a fresh dressing was applied, and a week on I think that it is healing well. A few days later I accidentally ran over the rake with the ride on mower, breaking the head from the handle, which made me smile at the time, but now I’ve got to buy a new rake. 2 nil to the rake I think.

The news is good; well if you like broad beans it is. I will be picking them for the boxes this week. I know we have had asparagus, but to me this heralds the beginning of summer, and they are at their best at this time of the season. I will also be cutting Swiss chard, parsley and lettuces from the garden, so it seems like the dark days are over and I am in more control of the supply chain, though I am still dependant on others for much of the produce on offer. The first of my own courgettes will be ready to cut this week, but it will be a week or two before I am self-sufficient in them. I am not yet sure about the availability of asparagus this week, so I am leaving it on the list at the moment, but will send out an email if I can’t procure it. There will be limited quantities of aubergines and Florence fennel this week, plus courgettes and broccoli. There are carrots, large beetroot, new potatoes, and onions, which will be new season ‘half dry’ ones, which means that they are not properly cured. There will be oranges, lemons and kiwi fruit.

Last Thursday I was taking a bucket of veg trimmings to the compost heap when out of the corner of my eye I spied a grass snake sunbathing in one of the compost bins that I had more or less emptied. For a moment it didn’t see me, but then it did, and so slid elegantly through the wooden bars of the bin into the undergrowth. It was a beautiful creature, over 2 feet in length; I hope that I see some babies like I did last year.

It’s Ridgewell farmers’ market on Saturday, as well Wyken, do come along if you can; the market at Wyken in particular has a great range of fantastic produce to choose from, but I advise that you get there before about 10.30 for the best selection of goods.

Right, I’m off to skip around the garden with a pair of handkerchiefs, have a good week.

Phil.

 

 

 

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