The Friends of Bourne Wood, in conjunction with Bourne Borderers Morris, held their fourth Wassail in the community orchard in Bourne on Saturday. A Wassail is a traditional custom to celebrate the apple harvest of last year, to reawaken the trees, and to encourage them to bear fruit this year. The weather was very kind this year, and although windy was not particularly cold. By 4.30pm a decent crowd of around 100 had gathered to join in the celebration – a delightful way to enliven a dull January day. Everyone was welcomed to the event, and then Bourne Borderers commenced the proceedings with a traditional Morris dance. Those attending were then offered a taste of either mulled cider or apple juice and some homemade cake, before everyone sung the ‘Apple Tree Wassail’.
The gathering then proceeded into the orchard, led by the Wassail Queen, aided admirably by the Wassail princess. The trees in the orchard had been decorated with lots of fairy lights and looked lovely in the dusk, with the path down also lit. The trees were blessed with cider, and toast was placed in the branches for the robins, the guardians of the orchard, by anyone wishing to take part, while the musicians continued to play. The trees were wassailed, with the customary poem, followed by lots of noise, with everyone present banging pots and pans, and cheering!
Once back on the hard-standing the Borderers danced again, and all joined in the ‘Here we come a wassailing’. The evening ended with the Mummers play – performed by the Borderers, and some final pieces of cake and a warm drink.
The Friends would like to thank everyone for supporting this event, and especially Bourne Borderers for their help and support, and all those who provided cakes and helped out on the day.
With bravado the intrepid travellers planned their usual monthly outing, ready to face ice, snow and January blizzards in order to be outside to admire nature’s wonders. However, as the morning of the meeting arrived, we realised that it would be more of a case of coping with mud and the puddles underfoot!
Above boot level the conditions were ideal- bright winter sunshine cascading through the trees with a blue sky above and no wind-perfect weather for enjoying the birds, trees and mosses. We set ourselves a possibly foolish target of seeing a tree-creeper, birds easily missed because they make little sound as they ascend the trunks looking for invertebrates and creepy- crawlies to eat. On entering the wood gate we were serenaded beautifully by a robin, singing in the sun from only a few feet away. Underneath his vantage point some hazel catkins were fully out, hanging like lamb’s tails, releasing their pollen to the air. We heard Jays calling from a distance – the unmusical sounds helped us to spot them through the branches. A little later we had splendid views of one as it fed at one of the Friends of Bourne Woods bird tables. There were plenty of blue tits, great tits and coal tits about, making delightful contact calls as they kept up with their friends as they looked for food. We spied woodpeckers (greater spotted) high in the tree tops though surprisingly they were not drumming that day, despite the good weather. Leaving the larger paths behind to follow some of the smaller tracks we soon found ourselves in a different world where badgers went about their business and the mosses grew undisturbed. Bluebells poked their first leaves through the carpet of fallen leaves. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk together, occasionally sharing tales of mutual interest. We decided over coffee later that it had been a good trip. And “did we see a tree-creeper?” you may ask……. Well we did!…. Indeed we saw two! They were relatively close so we had good views and were able to compare their colours and habits with a nuthatch which appeared on a neighbouring tree.
My dog would like to report that she had a good trip as well – indeed it was better than usual as the number in our group meant that she had plenty of fuss!