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Wassailing January 18, 2008

Filed under: Bristol news,environment,garden,the kids — paulabrown @ 9:59 am


** Saturday Wassail in the allotments behind the prison off Bishop Rd in Bristol 2-4pm **

Wassailing refers, among other things, to the practice of singing to trees in apple orchards in cider-producing regions of England. Wassail is an ale-based drink seasoned with spices and honey. It was served from huge bowls, often made of silver or pewter and often passed around the room to be shared – known as the Loving Cup. The Wassail bowl would be passed around with the greeting, ‘Wassail’.

Wassail gets its name from the Old English term “waes hael”, meaning “be well”. It was a Saxon custom that, at the start of each year, the lord of the manor would shout ‘waes hael’. The assembled crowd would reply ‘drinc hael’, meaning ‘drink and be healthy’.

As time went on, the tradition was carried on by people going from door to door, bearing good wishes and a wassail bowl of hot, spiced ale. In return people in the houses gave them drink, money and Christmas fare (special foods eaten during Christmas time e.g. mince pies) and they believed they would receive good luck for the year to come.

The contents of the bowl varied in different parts of the country, but a popular one was known as lambs wool. It consisted of ale, baked apples, sugar, spices, eggs, and cream served with little pieces of bread or toast. It was the bread floating on the top that made it look like lamb’s wool.

Apple tree wassailing is a ceremony which involves drinking to the health of the apple trees.

The Apple trees were sprinkled with wassail to ensure a good crop. Villagers would gather around the apple trees with pots and pans and made a tremendous racket to raise the Sleeping Tree Spirit and to scare off demons.

The biggest and best tree was then selected and cider poured over its roots. Pieces of toast soaked in cider were placed in the forks of branches. The wassail song was sung or chanted as a blessing or charm to bring a good apple harvest the following year.

This custom was especially important during a time when part of a labourer’s wages was paid in apple cider. Landlords needed a good apple crop to attract good workers. Wassailing was meant to keep the tree safe from evil spirits until the next year’s apples appeared.

Thanks to Woodland Junior School in Kent for that info!


Gardening Awards July 21, 2007

Filed under: Barefoot Books - titles,Bristol news,garden — paulabrown @ 12:20 pm

boywhogrew.jpg boywho.gif

So it’s been a disappointing week on the awards front, despite my best efforts to keep our jungle of a garden under control and indeed introduce some tamer elements such as a flower bed, solar lights, the willow dome etc, we have failed to get a Gorgeous Gardens poster.

The scheme is run in a small part of our native Horfield and actually only covers front gardens – which we don’t actually have! I did however put together the above display based on the Barefoot Book ‘The Boy Who Grew Flowers’, amending it to the ‘Boys Who Grew Flowers’ and had potted flowers, a laminated copy of the book cover, a playmobil boy and a shell moon (the boy in question conveniently sprouts flowers all over his body during the full moon). OK, so it was small but it had a THEME and everything!

Anyway it apparently didn’t warrant a Gorgeous Gardens Scheme poster (no bitterness, mind, though I do know the committee and where they live!) so I’m starting my own scheme – ‘Slightly Scruffy Gardens’, anyone wanting to enter please send photos of your gorgeous-but-slightly-scruffy-garden-to-me.


The garden! July 12, 2007

Filed under: garden,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 9:16 pm

I have just finished a session in our garden post the 40 days and 40 nights of rain, aka, the Great Flood – I felt like Indiana Jones thrashing through the rye grass and bindweed and was overjoyed to find an actual garden underneath it all! Our sunflowers are now as tall as me and we’ve erected an arch to mark the entry into our garden (and hide the pile of scooters, trikes and other children’s equipment). Anyway, here are some photos from our garden:

our herb spiral (from an idea from the Centre for Alternative Technology where you arrange herbs in a spiral so the wet loving herbs like mint are on the shady side at the bottom where they can get water, dry sun-loving herbs are on the top like rosemary and all the herbs can find shade or water as they require if you follow the instructions!)



our willow playdome, coming along nicely even though its only in its first year!


the garden from the kid’s window


Sunflowers July 10, 2007

Filed under: garden,parenting articles — paulabrown @ 7:07 am


These were our sunflowers a few weeks ago, thanks to the rain they are now taller than the boys!